Starting October 2, 2023, Emergency Department patients at Salford Care Organisation, part of the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, aged 16 and above will be routinely screened for HIV if they are having their blood taken. This testing is part of a national NHS initiative to test in the areas where rates of HIV are highest.
Manchester and Salford are among 16 very high prevalence areas in England where more than 5 in 1,000 people have HIV. In Greater Manchester, more than 6,379 people are thought to be living with HIV, with an estimated 5% unaware of their status.
HIV is a treatable condition. With early diagnosis, treatment and support, people living with HIV can lead a long and healthy life and cannot pass the virus onto others. However, most people with HIV may not have any symptoms and be unaware that they have this condition.
If HIV is diagnosed at a late stage, the risk of death from the illness rises by 8 times. This is why it is so important to improve access to screening for all individuals, because with early diagnosis, lives can be saved.
Dr Sarah Rose, consultant in Acute Medicine and clinical effectiveness lead at Salford Care Organisation said,
“The routine implementation of HIV testing for adults in emergency departments across the UK, particularly in areas of very high prevalence, has been hugely successful in ensuring that all populations have access to screening. Most importantly, this initiative has picked up new cases of HIV that would otherwise have been undetected and flagged patients who have been diagnosed but have not pursued treatment.”
The test is done while other blood tests are taken, and our staff have been trained to help with any concerns raised.”
It’s so important for people living with HIV to get diagnosed early as treatment is life-saving and free from the NHS.”
Under the programme at Salford Royal, people visiting our Emergency Department will be offered an HIV test when bloods are taken for other reasons. There is a specialist team in place to contact people with a positive test who will offer support and treatment. All results are confidential.
Anyone not wishing to be tested is free to decline the offer of a test and can do so by letting a member of staff know.
Since April 2022, over 130,000 people have been tested for HIV through routine emergency department testing at other hospitals in Greater Manchester. Of those tested, 56 people have been newly diagnosed with HIV; providing them with the opportunity to access effective support, treatment, and to remain healthy.
For further information please visit the patient information section of our website.