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HIV: Emergency Department Opt-out Testing

Volume 738: debated on Tuesday 17 October 2023

7. What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of emergency department opt-out testing for HIV. (906550)

Provisional NHS data shows that opt-out testing has found around 700 cases of HIV during its first year. In total, it has found more than 2,000 cases of blood-borne diseases, including hepatitis B and C.

I welcome the Minister’s news on those figures. He will have seen the impact of opt-out testing—detecting more people, treating them earlier and saving the NHS money. However, if we are to meet our 2030 target on no new infections, we cannot delay a further roll-out of opt-out testing. Will he commit the resources needed to expand it in time for World AIDS Day on 1 December?

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for all his work on this important issue. We will assess all the evidence and reply before the end of the year. Opt-out testing is not the only thing we are doing to drive down HIV transmission. We have had a 40% rise in the number of people getting pre-exposure prophylaxis, and we have increased the number of people testing, with 20,000 free testing kits handed out this year. We are doing everything we can to meet that visionary goal to stop HIV transmission in this country.

I thank the Minister for his answer to the question from the hon. Member for Darlington (Peter Gibson). It is clear that today, HIV is not the death sentence that it once was, because of the progress of medication and healthcare in prolonging life and improving quality of life. In Northern Ireland we are proactive, as the Minister will know, on PrEP and young people. We are doing progressive things through the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Has the Minister had the opportunity to discuss with the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Health Department how we can work better together? I always say we are better together in every case.

The hon. Gentleman is completely correct. He has been a fantastic champion on this issue. The UK is leading the world on this issue, hitting the UN’s 95-95-95 goals, driving down transmission and reducing stigma. People increasingly realise that as well as suppressing the virus, the treatment makes it impossible to transmit, transforming the lives of people with HIV.