Sir Elton John has launched a new hospital initiative at a London hospital which will see all patients in the Emergency Department routinely tested for HIV.
107,800 people are living with HIV in the UK ,and of these 24% are undiagnosed – with higher rates in Greater London
Under a new scheme at King’s College Hospital, every patient over the age of 16 who is having their blood tested will be tested for HIV at the same time, unless they choose to opt out.
It is hoped that including HIV tests in routine blood screening will help to identify the large number of people with HIV who are unaware of their status, who would not otherwise be tested.
Sir Elton John and David Furnish visited King’s yesterday to launch the initiative, which aims to reach 34,000 Londoners in its first 12 months of operation, in partnership with the Elton John Foundation.
Sir Elton John said: “Twenty-three years ago it was my privilege to open the Caldecot HIV Treatment Centre at King’s College Hospital.
“It was heartbreaking. So it’s incredible to think that today King’s can introduce something which not only stops people becoming sick needlessly, it prevents new infections and saves precious resources.
“I’m deeply proud that my Foundation has been able to support King’s in this endeavor and to see a British hospital leading the kind of innovation that will get us to an AIDS free future.”
Dr Cyril Noel, Consultant in Emergency Medicine said, “We’re extremely grateful to the Elton John AIDS Foundation for the grant that has allowed us to implement universal HIV testing.
“Lambeth and Southwark have some of the highest levels of HIV in the UK. There’s no reason why people should get sick or die from HIV, and one of the most common reasons they do is because they don’t know they have the infection. Universal testing is a significant step in addressing this.”