Saving Lives began life as a campaign to raise awareness of HIV testing amongst hospital doctors. A new campaign, HIV Awareness in Primary Care (HIVAP) aims to do the same among GPs and in their practices.
The HIVAP group, which has developed the campaign, is a taskforce made up of leading GPs who specialise in HIV and sexual health.
“Individuals most at risk of late diagnoses are those who do not engage with sexual health services, most often because they do not consider themselves to be at risk,” says Dr Will Ford-Young, GP at Broken Cross Surgery with expertise in HIV and sexual health, “However, many of these patients commonly present to their GP with signs or symptoms related to HIV and a simple intervention like HIV testing in primary care can ultimately save lives. Routine antenatal HIV testing has already been a big success. Our goal is to normalise HIV testing as part of the differential diagnosis in primary care to pick up cases of HIV earlier, when the chances for successful treatment are much greater.”
Of course, these aims agree entirely with Saving Lives’ own goals – so we wish the project well. In the UK, two-fifths of all new diagnoses are made late, meaning that individuals are already much more sick than they need to be. Today’s treatments can provide long, full lives to people living with HIV – if diagnosis comes earlier. That’s why testing awareness is so important.
HIVAP is funded and supported by ViiV Healthcare, and will be piloted by member practices of NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) before being rolled out elsewhere next year.
The launch of HIVAP is being marked by the release of Change the Face of HIV, a film which is available to watch on the project’s website. Take a look.