From Monday 1 October, St George’s Emergency Department (ED) will be offering HIV testing to all patients, aged 18-59, as part of their routine blood tests.

This new approach will lead to earlier diagnosis and ensure people can begin treatment and lead long and healthy lives.

Patients will have the option to opt out of the testing if they wish. The testing has been introduced following two pilot projects in our ED.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend testing is offered to all patients in areas where prevalence of HIV is over 2 in 1000. Wandsworth, Lambeth and Merton all have a prevalence of HIV far in excess of that.

Dr Melissa Hempling, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, said: “Many people living with HIV do not know their diagnosis which is why we are moving to routine testing as targeted strategies do not always work.

“This is a great development for St George’s which will help save lives, prevent the spread of HIV and benefit our local communities.”

Posters notifying patients of the testing will be on display in our ED, along with information leaflets for anyone who wants to find out more.

The benefits of routine HIV testing include:

  • Early diagnosis and prompt treatment results in improved health outcomes and lowers the risk of transmission
  • Reduces late diagnosis. Late diagnosis increases the risk of complicated illness and death
  • Offering HIV testing more routinely will help to ensure that a HIV test is regarded as routine practice and so reduce the stigma that can be associated with HIV testing
  • It saves millions in health care costs by reducing the risk of transmission and new diagnoses.