Screening all blood for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) could help put an end to new cases over the next decade, the HIV Commission has said.
Any time someone is offered a blood test in the NHS in England they should also be offered HIV screening, regardless of their gender, ethnicity or sexuality, it said.
The campaign, which has been released to mark World AIDS Day on December 1, has been backed by Sir Elton John.
“One thing we’ve learned this year is the importance of testing,” Sir Elton said.
The coalition of HIV charities have come together to make a series of recommendations to the Government on how it can eliminate new cases of HIV by 2030.
It's time for change ⏰
Despite making up less than 2% of the British population, almost half of new HIV diagnoses among straight people in the UK are Black African individuals.
— Terrence Higgins Trust (@THTorguk) November 26, 2020
Without action the Government may fail to meet this target, the coalition said in a new report.
The coalition said that there are significant missed opportunities to accurately test for HIV – with over half a million eligible people last year not tested in sexual health clinics alone.
It said that it is vital that testing becomes standard practice when registering for a GP, at cervical screenings, in pharmacies and in accident and emergency departments.
The coalition, made up of a number of organisations including the Terrence Higgins Trust, National AIDS Trust and Elton John AIDS Foundation, said that an estimated 5,900 people in England are living with undiagnosed HIV – which increases their risk of passing on the virus without knowing.
Sir Elton said: “One thing we’ve learned this year is the importance of testing and testing for HIV is at the core of ending new cases of HIV in England.
“It’s so important for everyone to know their HIV status to protect themselves and others.
“Making HIV testing available and normalised throughout the health service not only means people can be treated but by testing becoming routine, this removes some of the stigma that’s holding us back.
“The HIV Commission report released today highlights this as the overwhelming recommendation to reach the UK Government’s commitment to end new HIV cases in England by 2030.
“We have the chance for England to lead the way and be the first country to end new cases of HIV. We must not miss the chance at this legacy.”
Dame Inga Beale, chairwoman of the HIV Commission, said: “Zero new HIV cases in England by 2030 isn’t a pipedream or social media-friendly date plucked from the air – it’s 100% achievable.
“That’s why, after a year of gathering evidence, I’m very proud to launch our HIV Commission’s clear and actionable recommendations. We are calling on Government to read, respond and set out what it needs to achieve each year between now and 2030.
“Our vision for 2030 is a realistic one. It will require a significant increase in funding to enable the much needed step change in HIV testing across our healthcare systems, but will save our NHS money in the long run.
“Because only by testing everyone – regardless of ethnicity, gender or sexuality – can we truly normalise testing for HIV and make it a standard part of everyday healthcare. I’m excited to see this vision become reality.”