St Thomas' A&E patients offered HIV test

Monday 13 October 2014

Going viral campaign

All patients having a blood test in St Thomas’ A&E department this week (13-20 October) will be offered a blood test for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

It’s part of a national campaign in 10 hospitals, Going Viral, to routinely test emergency patients for the three viruses.

Lambeth, the London borough which St Thomas’ is located in, has the highest level of HIV infection in the UK and Southwark also has high rates – and many people infected with HIV may not have been diagnosed because they do not have symptoms.

In Lambeth 14.4 per 1,000 adults aged between 15 and 59-years-old have been diagnosed with HIV and in Southwark the figure is 11.7 per 1,000.

Dr Laura Hunter, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Guy’s and St Thomas’, says:

"We are really excited to be involved in this great project. Lambeth has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the country and Southwark isn’t far behind.

“It is thought that 1 in 5 people who are infected with HIV are not aware of their diagnosis and so early testing is vital.

“There are also high levels of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C among our local population and, because people with these viruses may not have any symptoms, patients may not know that they have the infection. A single blood test can test for all three viruses.

“Testing, early diagnosis and treatment improve patients’ lives and reduce the transmission of these diseases. Recent advances in treatment mean that patients who are diagnosed early can expect to live as long as someone without the disease.

“I hope our patients take this great opportunity to get tested."

Dr Julie Fox, Consultant in HIV at Guy's and St Thomas', adds: "Excellent treatments for all three viruses make this an important time to know your status and avoid being one of the 50% of people with HIV and hepatitis in this country who are diagnosed late."

Going Viral is a campaign being led by Barts Health NHS Trust – from 13-20 October all adult patients in A&E departments in 10 hospitals nationally will be offered a single blood test for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

Dr Chloe Orkin, Consultant Physician at Barts Health NHS Trust, says: “I would urge everyone who is offered the test to take up this important opportunity. New treatments mean that now is an excellent time to find out your HIV and Hepatitis statue.”

Professor Jane Anderson, expert advisor on sexual health, reproductive health and HIV at Public Health England, adds: “Going Viral is a very exciting initiative exploring innovative ways of reaching people, to improve their long-term health through increased testing.”

Last updated: October 2014

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