(Natural News) An investigation by the BBC has found that some Hospitals and General Practitioners (GP’s) in both England and Scotland have not been performing recommended HIV tests. Patients in areas where HIV is prevalent should be offered a test upon registering to a GP or being admitted to a hospital. The BBC report indicates that National Health Service (NHS) providers are not recommending or performing the tests. Health officials cite the prevention of HIV to remain a priority.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence says that GP’s and Hospitals should consider the testing, according to it’s 2011 guidelines. They are conducting a review of those guidelines and should release their findings in December. The British HIV Association, along with The British Association of Sexual Health and HIV, circulated their own guidelines across the UK in 2013 stating that “In high-prevalence areas everyone should be offered an HIV test upon registration with a GP or being admitted to a hospital ‘s medical unit.”
According to official figures, over a third of local public health authorities in England are considered high-prevalence areas. In Scotland, it’s only one seventh. Eighty-two percent of English high-prevalent area hospitals were found not adhering to testing guidelines while None of the Scotland NHS boards routinely offered checks. In England local authorities are responsible for funding population based HIV testing, but 70% of the high-prevalent areas do not fund GP’s. HIV experts say this could be causing avoidable death. Patients that have yet to be diagnosed with HIV aren’t receiving any treatment, and may also infect their partners.
According to Dr. Chloe Orkin from the British HIV association, “Testing for HIV is very cost-effective. Deaths due to late diagnosis are completely preventable through excellent treatments.” Figures from Public Heath England state that over 100,000 people with HIV are living in the UK and 17% of those are unaware of their condition. The British Association of Sexual Health and HIV has urged local authorities to work with local providers. Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Well being Board, Councilor Izzi Seccombe, says “In some areas, it may be more appropriate to reach out to people by providing tests in the community or at sexual health clinics” although she is concerned that cuts to public health funding might affect alternate HIV test settings. The Department of Health states that “Over the next five years, we will invest more in local government public health services.” Prevention of HIV infection also remains a priority for the Scottish government which will continue to provide funding to it’s boards.