Press Article10/05/2010

Make HIV tests routine - consultant

Patients should be routinely tested for HIV in hospitals in a bid to combat the rising rates of the sex infection, a leading Birmingham consultant has said.

Heartlands Hospital HIV Service's leading specialist Dr John Watson made the call after three reports exposed a "lottery" of testing in hospitals.

The reports found one in three sufferers are unaware they have the disease. Most patient accept the offer to take a test, but nurses and medics are often embarrassed to ask patients. Dr Watson believes blanket testing would result in early diagnosis of HIV and reduce the danger of them accidentally infecting others.

"We appreciate that asking someone to take a HIV test can be awkward, but it really can save lives," said Dr Watson. "With HIV in the West Midlands on the rise, it is very important people know the earlier they are tested and diagnosed, the more effective the treatment. A brief chat to the patient advising them it's one of the routine tests done when presenting with a range of conditions is all that is needed.

"Treatment is now so advanced that people with HIV who are diagnosed early can still lead a long, healthy life."

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