BASHH welcomes publication of new NICE guidance on increasing uptake of HIV testing

1st December 2016

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) welcomes the publication of new guidelines from NICE designed to support an increase in the uptake of HIV testing, the release of which coincides with World AIDS Day.

In 2014, an estimated 103,700 people in the UK were living with HIV. It is estimated that 1 in 6 people with HIV infection are unaware that they are infected, and therefore do not have the opportunity to access life-saving treatment. They also present a risk of onward transmission to others.

The new NICE guidelines emphasise the importance of maximising testing particularly in areas of high and extremely high prevalence of HIV, to ensure that the infection is detected early and that people are offered appropriate care and treatment. They also place emphasis on the importance of healthcare professionals and lay testers being confident in offering HIV testing and ensuring that pathways into HIV care services are available for those who test positive.

BASHH is grateful for the recognition of the need to challenge stigma and dispel misconceptions around HIV, and welcomes the solutions suggested by NICE to reduce barriers to HIV testing. Ultimately, effective HIV testing will require a co-ordinated effort from local authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups and NHS England to ensure NICE recommendations are met.

Commenting on the new NICE guidelines, BASHH President Dr Elizabeth Carlin said:

NICE has given a clear steer on the importance of widening HIV testing to support earlier diagnosis; with greater clarity over who should be offered a test and when.

At a time when 17 people a day are diagnosed with HIV in the UK and when late diagnosis is greatest in areas with the highest prevalence, it is essential that we concentrate our efforts on offering HIV testing and detecting HIV infection as early as possible. This enables people living with HIV to access HIV care and to reduce the risk of onward transmission.

It is vital that this guidance is accompanied by appropriate funding to support the implementation of its recommendations and, ultimately, improve outcomes for HIV in this country.

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