No testing despite hiv case rise

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MORE than 140 people have been diagnosed with HIV in Wigan – but patients will not be offered new HIV testing.

Latest figures from the Health Protection Agency show 142 people in the borough accessed HIV-related care in 2009.

But Wigan’s HIV rate of 0.78 per 1,000 people (aged 15 to 59) falls below the indicator for high prevalence areas.

In areas where more than two in 1,000 adults have been diagnosed with HIV, anyone who has a blood test for any reason should be offered a test for the virus too, according to guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

NHS staff will be told to “offer and recommend” tests to all those who use A&E services and register as new patients with GP practices in high prevalence areas in England. The move effectively forces patients to opt out of the testing.

The testing will cost nearly £16m a year and affect 37 primary care trusts, 26 of which are in London. Those outside the capital include Blackpool, Brighton and Hove, Birmingham, Leicester, Manchester and Milton Keynes.

In August it was revealed record numbers of people were diagnosed with HIV/ Aids in Wigan. Doctors diagnosed 18 patients each year from 2005 to 2008 with the disease.

The 2009 figures, published in a report by John Moore University, show cases on the increase locally. And Glen Berry, Ashton, Leigh and Wigan Primary Care Trust’s assistant director of health, said the figure of 21 is the highest in the borough since the first locally reported Aids cases in the 1980s.

The figures for Wigan are lower than in many parts of the North West, the highest numbers occurring where there are high concentrations of people from other parts of the world, especially sub-Saharan Africa.