Saving Lives began its life as an awareness campaign within a single hospital. We aimed to encourage non-specialist doctors to test for HIV when indicator symptoms presented themselves – and our campaign worked. Of course, any awareness-raising is an ongoing mission – many campaigns make change, not one.
Nevertheless, the details in this story from the BBC is disappointing:
Some hospitals and GP practices in England and Scotland are failing to carry out recommended HIV checks, a BBC investigation has found.
Experts suggest patients in areas with high rates of HIV ought to be offered a test when they register with a GP or are admitted to hospital.
But research carried out for BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme suggests many NHS providers are not doing this.
Health officials said the prevention of HIV infection remained a priority.
There are many challenges to offering testing as a routine service to new admissions. These include education, awareness and stigma – and campaigns like those Saving Lives and many other groups and doctors conduct can really help.
Offering tests as a matter of course will reduce the rate of late diagnosis and of non-diagnosed HIV – and this will save lives. Investment is important, as Councillor Izzi Seccombe points out in the story, as are the excellent clinical guidelines produced by the British HIV Association (BHIVA); but so, too, are raising awareness and combating stigma – which we continue to campaign to achieve.