HIV Test Week is nearly over, and you’ll be forgiven if you think that HIV testing is just for one week since most of its publicity lasts for only a week in November leading up to the celebrated World AIDS Day on December 1st every year.
While HIV Test Week draws attention to the need to get tested for HIV, World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.
The national pledge commits Leicestershire to halve late HIV diagnoses by 2020.
The sooner HIV is diagnosed, the sooner appropriate care can begin. Thanks to anti-retroviral combination therapy, the life expectancy of someone living with HIV has increased markedly. Today, an individual diagnosed with HIV at the age of 35 years, with prompt access to effective treatment, can expect to live a normal life span.
HIV continues to be a serious health condition in the UK. Here are some of the recent statistics:
- An estimated 103,700 people are living with HIV in the UK.
- Of these, around 17 per cent are undiagnosed and do not know about their HIV infection.
- There were 6,151 new HIV diagnoses in 2014.
- Two-fifths (40 per cent) of people diagnosed with HIV in 2014 were diagnosed late, after they should have already started treatment.
- Just over one in four people (27 per cent) living with diagnosed HIV is aged 50 years or over.
- There has been a 2 per cent decrease in testing at sexual health clinics over the last year but opportunities to test in the community and at GPs and get a home sampling kit have increased.
Around 17% of people who have HIV don’t realise they have it, and it’s very likely that untreated HIV will be passed to other people. That’s why it’s important to get tested so we can halve the amount of people who remain undiagnosed, (why not have a HIV test)?
Halve It (halveit.org.uk) is a coalition of national experts determined to tackle the continued public health challenges posed by HIV. Their goals are to halve the proportion of people diagnosed late with HIV and to halve the proportion of people living with undiagnosed HIV.
The Halve It campaign calls upon all levels of government and their agencies to ensure that HIV is a public health priority both locally and nationally, they are asking the government to:
- Fully implement National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) public health guidance on HIV testing.
- Support the delivery of the Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) by ensuring that local health organisations are equipped to realise the benefits of early detection of HIV.
- Offer incentives to test for HIV in a variety of healthcare settings, for example through the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) and Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) frameworks.
- Ensure that people diagnosed with HIV have access to any retroviral therapies (ARTs) to prevent onward transmission in line with the joint recommendations of the Expert Advisory Group on AIDS (EAGA) and the British HIV Association (BHIVA).
- Ensure quality-assured (ie CE marked) self-testing kits for HIV when available, are integrated into local HIV testing strategies along with home sampling kits.
To find out more about the campaign download their position paper here
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