Local MPs Ben Everitt and Iain Stewart are calling on the Government to expand the rollout of opt-out HIV testing to Milton Keynes.
Ben and Iain have been working with the Terrence Higgins Trust to urge the Department for Health and Social Care to fund the testing infrastructure and help improve healthcare outcomes.
So far opt-out testing has been rolled out in ‘very high’ areas of prevalence such as London, Manchester and Brighton, but MK is classified as ‘high’, the next tier down so has not yet been included.
In a letter to Steve Barclay, the Health Secretary, Ben and Iain shared their concerns that Milton Keynes has a far higher percentage of late stage HIV diagnoses at 50% compared to the national average of 43.4%.
Opt-out testing is proven to find those with traditionally the worst HIV outcomes which includes people of Black African heritage, women, and older people.
The Government is committed to the ambitious target of ending new HIV transmissions by 2030 and the MPs believe extending opt-out HIV testing to cities like MK would help meet this target.
Ben Everitt, the MP for Milton Keynes North, said: “Milton Keynes has a high prevalence of HIV and following the successful rollout in very high tier areas like London and Manchester it’s vital we expand opt-out testing.
“The Terrence Higgins Trust do incredible work campaigning to end HIV transmissions and improve sexual health and I’m determined to make it a success.
“The Government’s HIV Action Plan is extremely welcome and has already had a positive impact in these areas so we need to take the next step and improve health outcomes here in MK.
Iain Stewart, the MP for Milton Keynes South, commented: “I am sadly aware of Milton Keynes’ high prevalence of HIV and so I believe it is important that we expand the opt-out testing.
“HIV is an issue that I am particularly passionate about. That is why I am pleased the Government has announced a HIV Action Plan.
“The rollouts in other areas of the country have showed promising signs and with Milton Keynes being a hub of innovation, I am now working with Ben to see if we can bring it to MK.”