HIV Testing in Berkshire GP Surgeries

16 March 2012, 05:00

6 GP surgeries in Berkshire are taking part in a pilot study to test new patients for HIV when they register.

It's estimated almost 92,000 people have HIV, with 24% of them not knowing.

NHS Berkshire, as part of national guidelines, are starting a pilot to try and get more people to have a HIV test.

In Reading 2.8 people per thousand have HIV.

The test that is a finger prick test that gives an instant result for patients there and then in the surgery.

If the test is negative, patients are advised immediately and would only need to be retested if there was a chance that they had come into contact with the infection within the last three months. 

This is because there is a period of time in which HIV does not show up in a test.

If the test reacts, then the patient will need to attend the Florey Clinic at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, for a confirmatory test and advice. 

Dr Elizabeth Johnston, Chair of South Reading Clinical Commissioning Group said:

"We know that GP surgeries offering similar programmes in the UK have been able to help people with HIV who may not otherwise have been diagnosed. 

"They have been able to significantly reduce the damage that HIV does by diagnosing it earlier."

The finger prick test will only be offered to new patients, although anyone can request an HIV blood test from their GP or sexual health clinic.

The pilot is the only one of its kind in the Thames Valley, with patients in Oxfordshire needing to request a test or go to a sexual health clinic.