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Routine HIV testing 'could save lives'

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Blanket testing of hospital patients for HIV could save lives, a top Birmingham doctor has said as infection rates continue to rise.

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Heartlands Hospital HIV service specialist Dr John Watson has called for routine screening after three reports showed a “lottery” of testing across hospitals.

One in three people with HIV are unaware of it, yet most patients accept the offer of a test when asked, research shows.

There is some evidence nurses and doctors are too embarrassed to routinely offer patients a test, despite early diagnosis helping to reduce the spread as well as ensuring early treatment.

“We appreciate that asking someone to take am 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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