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World AIDS Day: Life-saving A&E HIV testing programme shines with over 400 positive tests since launch

The 1 December every year is World AIDS Day, an annual opportunity for the world to unite against HIV – something which North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust strongly supports and marks every year.

On 1 December 2020, North Mid introduced a life-saving pilot programme that made HIV testing for patients aged 18 or over attending the hospital’s A&E department routine and part of normal blood tests that has now been made permanent.

Since it's launch, to date, a total of 442 HIV-positive tests have been detected.

Over 9% of patients (40) who tested positive were new diagnoses and have been referred for ongoing care from North Mid’s dedicated HIV team at the Alexander Pringle Centre, one of the largest specialist services for people with HIV in the UK.

Out of the 284 positive HIV tests between December 2020 and December 2021, 26 of those were new cases. From January 2022 to November 2022, 14 new diagnoses were detected out of the 158 positive tests.

Enfield and Haringey have some of the highest rates of HIV in the UK (4 in 1000 in Enfield and 6 in 1000 in Haringey) and the second highest rate of late diagnosis in London, emphasising the importance of having routine testing at North Mid.

The introduction of routine HIV testing aims to increase early diagnosis rates in each borough, leading to ongoing treatment for those who test positive and reducing the risk of transmission within communities.

Those who do not wish to be tested have the opportunity to opt-out at the point of testing.

World AIDS Day is an opportunity to show solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV worldwide. Most people do this by wearing an HIV awareness red ribbon on the day.

You can get a ribbon today from the Alexander Pringle Centre team who are in the main atrium raising awareness and having important conversations.

Dr Emily Cheserem, consultant in Sexual Health and HIV at North Mid, said: “World AIDS Day is once a year, but it is fantastic that here at North Mid, we are supporting people living with HIV every day.

“Introducing routine testing for HIV has allowed us, as a Trust, to target a prevalent health threat in our local community and ensure that we are supporting and caring for everyone over the age of 18 coming through our A&E department as much as possible. It has been a vital step forward in our national effort to achieve zero HIV infections and AIDS and HIV-related deaths by 2030.”

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