NICE promotes increased HIV testing

New NICE guidance promotes routine HIV testing to help reduce undiagnosed infection and prevent transmission among black African communities living in England.

The guidance cites research indicating that people of black African heritage are disproportionately affected by HIV, with over 2,000 diagnosed with infection in 2009, representing one third of all new diagnoses in the UK.

HIV can be successfully managed with antiretroviral therapies which suppress the virus and help prevent transmission but only if the disease is treated early enough to prevent the virus seriously damaging the immune system. Late diagnosis is one of the biggest contributing factors to illness and death for people with HIV.

Professor Mike Kelly, Director of the Centre for Public Health Excellence at NICE said: "For many people of black African heritage there is a fear that being diagnosed HIV positive will result in social exclusion or racism and prejudice from both inside and outside their community. As such there is often a reluctance to be tested which can significantly delay diagnosis. This new guidance from NICE aims to normalise HIV testing by ensuring it is routinely offered to all people who live in an area where there is a high prevalence of HIV, when registering with a new GP, on admission to hospital, or when having a blood test."

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Increasing the uptake of HIV testing among black Africans in England