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New HIV testing funds for Milton Keynes hospitalto find those living with undiagnosed HIV

HIV testing is to be ramped up in Milton Keynes courtesy of new funding for opt-out HIV testing in Milton Keynes University Hospital’s A&E department, following high profile support from local councillors.   

This comes after new Health Secretary, Victoria Atkins, announced the government will be rolling out this innovative new HIV testing approach in A&Es to all areas in England with a high prevalence of HIV – including Milton Keynes.  


The expansion in Milton Keynes follows theremarkable success of opt-out testing in A&Es in London, Brighton, Blackpool and Manchester where HIV prevalence is classed as ‘very high’. Nearly 1,000 people have been found with HIV and a further 3,000 with hepatitis B and C, in just 18 months.


As a result of this new investment, everyone who has a blood test in A&E in Milton Keyneswill be tested for HIV, 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 diagnosed in sexual health clinics.


The £20 million of funding announced this week will lead to nearly a doubling 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 inMilton Keynes’ 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.


Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of Milton Keynes Council said: “I am so pleased that the new Health Secretary has heard our calls to expand opt-out HIV testing to Milton Keynes University Hospital. This approach is a tried and tested way of finding people with undiagnosed HIV, which is crucial in cities like ours with a high prevalence of HIV. Labour is committed to ending new HIV cases in England by 2030 and we are determined to play our part in achieving this goal in Milton Keynes.”


Cllr Emily Darlington, Cabinet Lead for Adults, Housing and Healthy Communities said: “I am proud to have been part of this hard-fought campaign for crucial HIV testing funds for our local hospital. Opt-out HIV testing in A&Es is effective at finding people otherwise more likely to be diagnosed with HIV at a late stage – women, people of Black ethnicity and older people. I want to thank local healthcare professionals who have been calling for this pioneering approach to HIV testing and Terrence Higgins Trust for campaigning at a national level for the funding required. ”  


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