HIV is a treatable medical condition and effective medication dramatically improves the outlook for people diagnosed with HIV today.
“Opt-out” HIV testing has been implemented in some hospital Emergency Departments in Greater Manchester – meaning that, if your blood is taken when you attend an Emergency Department, you will be tested routinely for HIV unless you say that you do not want this to happen. You will be tested for Hepatitis C at the same time. This is being communicated with people attending Emergency Departments through posters and leaflets in waiting areas which will let people know that they can opt out if they choose.
Lots of tests are already done when blood is taken without people expecting much explanation, including tests for kidney and liver function, blood counts and so on and most people are happy to have tests that medical professionals consider to be in their best interests.
Ensuring that people are tested routinely for HIV has been a real challenge for healthcare services, with people attending GPs, emergency departments and hospital appointments and not being offered HIV testing when they could have been.
This way of HIV testing has been chosen to help ensure that:
- HIV testing is seen as normal and that testing is delivered routinely
- As many people as possible are tested for HIV
- HIV tests are done in healthcare settings attended by a lot of people
The aim is to ensure that people living with HIV are diagnosed at an early stage meaning that serious illness can be prevented.
Much higher numbers of people will benefit from HIV testing using this opt-out, implied consent method.
The intention is to ensure that people see and understand the written information about routine HIV testing that will be available in Emergency Department waiting areas.
Information will be gathered from people who are tested in this way to understand better how the process is experienced and might be adapted based on the feedback received.