400 living with undiagnosed HIV in Tower Hamlets

Health bosses in the East End where 400 people may be living with undiagnosed HIV have become the first in the country to sign up to a campaign to reduce late diagnosis.

The ‘Halve It’ campaign aims to improve access to early treatment which has now been endorsed by Tower Hamlets Health and Wellbeing Board.

“National estimates suggest there are 400 people in Tower Hamlets with HIV who have not yet been tested,” its public health director Dr Somen Banerjee said.

“I urge people, especially from black ethnic backgrounds and gay men to take a test so that we can reduce the numbers diagnosed late and undiagnosed.”

It follows a programme brought in at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel last year by Barts Health NHS Trust for routine HIV tests for willing patients being treated for any medical condition.

A late diagnosis means the virus has time to weaken the immune system, health officials warn. Tower Hamlets is one of 64 local authority areas with high numbers of people living with HIV.

The area includes the country’s leading HIV specialist hospital, Mildmay, in Shoreditch.