HIV testing is to be ramped up in Tameside courtesy of new funding for opt-out HIV testing in Tameside General Hospital’s A&E department, following high profile support from local MP Andrew Gwynne.
This comes after new Health Secretary, Victoria Atkins, announced the government will be rolling out this innovative new HIV testing approach in A&Es to all areas in England with a high prevalence of HIV – including Tameside.
The expansion to Tameside follows the remarkable success of opt-out testing in A&Es in London, Brighton, Blackpool and Manchester where HIV prevalence is classed as ‘very high’. Nearly 1,000 people have been found with HIV and a further 3,000 with hepatitis B and C, in just 18 months.
Mr Gwynne has long highlighted the successes of the opt-out testing programme in parliament. The MP has stressed his commitment to ending new cases of HIV by 2030 and highlighted the need for this new approach to be adopted in Tameside.
As a result of this new investment, everyone who has a blood test in A&E in Tameside will be tested for HIV, unless they ask not to be. Opt-out HIV testing helps tackle shocking rates of late diagnosis, with more than 4 in 10 people nationally still being diagnosed late. Those diagnosed in A&Es are more likely to be of Black ethnicity, women and older than those diagnosed in sexual health clinics.
The £20 million of funding announced this week will lead to nearly a doubling of the number of HIV tests done in England next year. This is crucial for finding the 4,400 people living with undiagnosed HIV in England, who are twice as likely to live outside of London. Opt-out HIV testing in Tameside’s A&E will turbo-charge local efforts to find these people.
Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, has been calling for this expansion – saying it will be essential to meet the Government’s goal of ending new HIV cases by 2030.
Andrew Gwynne, Member of Parliament for Denton and Reddish, said:
“I am delighted that the government has heard my call for vital HIV testing funds for Tameside General Hospital and all other hospitals with a high prevalence of HIV.
Opt-out HIV testing in A&Es has been remarkably successful at finding people with undiagnosed HIV in London, Brighton, Blackpool and Manchester – and it is what is needed in Tameside.
I want to thank local healthcare professionals who have been calling for this pioneering approach to HIV testing and Terrence Higgins Trust for campaigning at a national level for the funding required.
Labour is committed to ending new HIV cases in England by 2030, and I am determined that in Tameside we play our part in making that goal a reality.”
Richard Angell, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust said:
“Today’s announcement is the testing turbo boost we need if we are to end new HIV cases by 2030. It’s hugely significant that an additional two million HIV tests will be carried out in A&Es over the next year thanks to a temporary but wholesale expansion of opt-out HIV testing to 46 additional hospitals.
With this landmark investment, opt-out HIV testing in A&Es will account for more than half of all tests in England.
This major ramping up of testing is absolutely crucial to find the 4,400 people still living with undiagnosed HIV.”