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Over 63 500 adults now live with HIV in the UK. There are over 31 500 GPs. That's about two each — who are yours?
HIV is not confined to London and the major cities, and highly-active antiretroviral therapy has transformed health outcomes. Later diagnosis is related to poorer health, but a significant proportion of people who are diagnosed late with HIV infection have been in contact with healthcare professionals in the preceding year with symptoms which, in retrospect, were likely to be related.
We can make a difference.
Lengthy pre-test counselling is not required, unless a patient requests or needs this. The minimum requirement is to provide an opportunity for pre-test discussion to ensure there is informed patient consent to the test.
HIV is a chronic disease with effective treatment which considerably improves the quality and quantity of life. We won't be able to diagnose it if we do not think about it, nor will we be able to diagnose it if we do not ask about it. We need to become more aware and more comfortable to invite discussion as we would do with any other chronic disease.
The test, if negative, does not need to be disclosed on applications for insurance, so how about it? This top tip helps to make it a more straightforward part of our consultation.
Thanks to Addenbrookes postgraduate medical centre for advice, support, and good humour.