NGH ‘needs to test everyone for HIV virus’

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A charity has called for HIV tests for everybody admitted to Northamptonshire hospitals to tackle levels of the virus, which are double the national average.

The charity is also concerned that just over 69 per cent of HIV carriers in Northampton are diagnosed late.

Yusef Azad, director of policy at the National AIDS Trust, said: “You are approaching double the national average so it is an area of high prevalence.

“People are also being diagnosed far too late in Northampton. The national average is bad enough but Northampton is very high. It needs special attention and special measures to deal with it, from local councils and local health bodies.

“This has to be a priority for Northampton.”

Northampton has an HIV prevalence rate of 2.8 cases per thousand people, the tenth highest rate in England outside London.

The charity said later treatment was less cost effective for the NHS.

But more importantly late diagnoses give people less chance of long-term survival.

Mr Azad wants Northampton to follow the Health Protection Agency’s advice for all areas with a diagnosed HIV prevalence greater than two per 1,000, and implement routine HIV testing for all general medical admissions as well as new registrants in primary care.

Mr Azad said: “The prevalence is high enough to make it cost effective to do the test at the same time as routine bloods are done.

“It does cost extra but in Northampton it will be worth it as fewer transmissions will bring treatment costs down as well as mean people with HIV can live normal lives.”

NHS Northamptonshire Healthcare failed to comment but it is understood it has been unwilling to implement routine testing because of the cost implications and that it has no plans to fund NGH to carry out the tests.