Posted on Monday 23 November 2015
Cllr Donatus Anyanwu, the Mayor of Lambeth, with Dr Christian Jessen, Dr Laura Hunter, and Joel Paparello, HIV nurse specialist.
Doctor and television presenter Christian Jessen performed an HIV test on the Mayor of Lambeth at St Thomas’ Hospital today (Monday 23 November) to raise awareness of the importance of being tested.
Dr Christian, who presents Channel 4 programmes such as Embarrassing Bodies, and Councillor Donatus Anyanwu, the Mayor of Lambeth, came to the hospital’s Emergency Department to support National HIV Testing Week, which runs from 21-28 November.
Lambeth has one of the highest rates of HIV in the UK. The local prevalence of HIV is more than three times higher than the national rate, with approximately 10 out of every 1,000 residents having the condition compared to a national prevalence of three out of every 1,000.
In July this year a pioneering new approach to HIV screening was launched at Guy’s and St Thomas’. The Trust became the first in the UK to test all patients having a blood test in the Emergency Department routinely for HIV. The strategy has seen an increase in the number of people diagnosed with HIV who were previously unaware of their status.
Dr Christian, who is the Terrence Higgins Trust National HIV Testing Week Ambassador, says: “Testing for HIV is crucial for prevention. The fact that diagnoses have increased is encouraging in one sense. If you get tested and receive a positive diagnosis, you can now immediately go onto treatment.
“Most concerning to me is the fact that one in five people nationally with HIV do not realise they have it, so they are putting their own health at risk, and HIV could unknowingly be passed on to others.
“This is why proactive approaches to HIV testing like the one used in St Thomas’ A&E are beneficial both for individual patients and wider public health.”
Laura Hunter, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Guy’s and St Thomas’, says: “Our new approach to testing is boosting HIV detection rates and saving lives.
“We’re diagnosing HIV in people who were previously unaware they had the condition. This means we’re able to arrange appropriate treatment and care to protect their health and to prevent the unknowing transmission of HIV on to others.
“It was great to have Dr Christian and the Mayor of Lambeth here highlighting the importance of HIV testing and supporting the screening approach we use in the Emergency Department.”