Wednesday 23 March 2011
"Halve It", a broad coalition of experts and advocates in HIV welcomed the new guidance as a major step forward in helping to halve the proportion of people undiagnosed with HIV. New NICE guidance, published today recommends an expansion of HIV testing in clinical and community settings in areas of high prevalence to help reduce undiagnosed infection and prevent transmission among black African communities living in England.
The coalition, whose membership includes, the British HIV Association (BHIVA), British Association for Sexual Health & HIV (BASHH), the African Heath Policy Network, Terrence Higgins Trust, The Medical Foundation for AIDS and Sexual Health (MedFASH), the National AIDS Trust (NAT) and the National HIV Nurses Association (NHIVNA) calls upon all levels of government to halve the proportion of people diagnosed late with HIV (with a CD4 count <350mm3) and to halve the proportion of people living with undiagnosed HIV within 5 years.
Francis Kaikumba, Chief Executive of the African Health Policy Network, a founder member of "Halve It", welcomed the new public health guidance. "Over many years, experts in the UK and around the world have recognised that early testing not only saves lives by preventing onward transmission and enabling those who have been infected to access treatment earlier, but it can save money too. By preventing just one infection we can save the public purse between £280,000 and £360,000 in direct lifetime costs alone".
Dr Ian Williams, chair of the British HIV Association, a founder member of "Halve It" said "We very much welcome these guidelines and hope that they are a catalyst to wider testing in a broad range of healthcare and community settings. We firmly believe that the early diagnosis of HIV is of significant benefit to both personal and public health. We look forward to their full implementation."
"Halve It" is a coalition of HIV and healthcare experts who are determined to tackle the continued public health challenges posed by HIV.
Our members represent the following organisations:
African Health Policy Network
All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS
British Association for Sexual Health and HIV
British HIV Association
Gilead Sciences Ltd
London Sexual Health Programme
Medical Foundation for AIDS and Sexual Health (MedFASH)
National AIDS Trust
National HIV Nurses Association (NHIVNA)
Sex, Drugs and HIV Group of the Royal College of General Practitioners
Terrence Higgins Trust
There are over 22,000 people in the UK who are HIV positive but do not know it, and of those who are diagnosed, more than half are diagnosed late1. "Halve It" is working to halve the proportion of people living with undiagnosed HIV and halve the number of people diagnosed late with HIV over the next five years.
The "Halve It" coalition calls upon all levels of government to:
1. Make HIV a public health priority both locally and nationally.
2. Ensure HIV is given appropriate priority on the ground by requiring that it is systematically considered in local health needs assessments and health planning processes.
3. Offer healthcare practices incentives to test for HIV.
4. Strengthen the relationship between national surveillance and local reporting of HIV testing by enhancing local HIV reporting procedures and maintaining a world class national surveillance capability.
Halving undiagnosed HIV by 2015 will mean fewer new HIV infections, fewer early deaths and more money saved by the NHS at a time when every penny counts. The campaign recognises that early testing for HIV can save lives and prevent onward transmission and calls on the government to make HIV a public health priority.
The "Halve It" Coalition has been funded and supported by Gilead Sciences Ltd and the British HIV Association (BHIVA).
The guidance is available on the NICE website (www.nice.org.uk/guidance/PH33) from 23.03. 2011.
For more information please contact:
Secretary to "Halve It"
1 Health Protection Agency. HIV in the UK: 2010 report
http://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1287145367237. Publication date November 2010.
Accessed 18 March 2011.