Landmark investment in new HIV testing funds for Sandwell General Hospital

Mayor Andy Street, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Victoria Atkins and Nicola Richards MP visiting Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins has announced a new HIV testing approach in areas with a high prevalence of HIV, including Sandwell.

Nicola Richards. MP for West Bromwich East, welcomed the news with the announcement follows the incredible success of opt-out testing in A&Es in London, Brighton, Blackpool and Manchester.

Nearly 1,000 people have been found with HIV and a further more than 3,000 with hepatitis B and C, in just 18 months in four cities.

Nicola has been working with Mayor Andy Street and the Terrence Higgins Trust to make the case for opt-out testing to be extended to the West Midlands. The campaign was raised in a question to the Prime Minister from Nicola Richards earlier in the year, where he described the testing as having been “highly successful”.

As a result of this investment, everyone who has a blood test in Sandwell General A&E and 45 more across the country will be tested for HIV and hepatitis, unless they ask not to be. Opt-out HIV testing helps tackle shocking rates of late diagnosis, with more than 4 in 10 people nationally still being diagnosed late.

Those diagnosed in A&Es are more likely to be of Black ethnicity, women and older than those diagnoses in sexual health departments. The nearly £20 million of funding announced this week will lead to a tripling of the number of HIV tests done in England next year.

This is crucial for finding the 4,400 people living with undiagnosed HIV in England, who are twice as likely to live outside of London. Opt-out HIV testing in Sandwell General A&E will turbo-charge local efforts to find these people.

Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, has been calling for this expansion – saying it will be essential to meet the Government’s goal of ending new HIV cases by 2030. Nicola Richards, MP for West Bromwich East said:

“I am delighted that the new Health Secretary has heard our calls for vital HIV testing funds for Sandwell and elsewhere in the region.

"Opt-out HIV testing in A&Es saves lives, saves money and relieves pressure on the NHS. This approach is exactly what is needed to find the undiagnosed and end new cases of HIV by 2030.

"I am determined that Sandwell plays our part in making that goal a reality.”


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