HIV testing should be routine at hospital A&Es, TV’s Victor Meldew urges
- Credit: Barts NHS Trust
A national campaign to test emergency patients for HIV and Hepatitis routinely has been launched at the Royal London Hospital.
TV’s Victor Meldew—actor Richard Wilson—is among a host of celebrities supporting the ‘Going Viral’ programme by Barts Health NHS Trust.
He is visiting the hospital in Whitechapel tomorrow for the launch, aimed at persuading the government to introduce routine testing throughout the UK.
Other celebrities backing the campaign include Elton John, DJ Tim Westwood, actor Tom Wilkinson and singer-songwriter Sadie Frost.
Anyone having a blood test at 10 hospitals taking part in the campaign in London, Leeds, Leicester and Glasgow until next Monday are also being offered testing for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. The hospitals taking part include Newham and Whipps Cross as well as the Royal London.
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One blood sample can test for all three viruses. Anyone testing positive will be informed within two weeks and referred to a specialist clinic.
Peter Martin, 49, from Shoreditch, was diagnosed 20 years ago with Hepatitis C, but new medication only recently became available. Now he no longer struggles with life.
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“The deterioration was gradual over 20 years,” he explained. “I would tell friends I was missing half my personality and character.
“Now I have had the most amazing recovery—my brain is lit up like a Christmas tree!”
Half of those with HIV or Hepatitis in Britain have been diagnosed late because there is very little routine screening in GP clinics or hospitals, NHS campaigners point out.
Royal London consultant physician Dr Chloe Orkin said: “It’s shocking that half were diagnosed late. Yet they can live a normal lifespan when treated. New Hepatitis C drugs also cure eight-out-of-10 of those treated.”
The campaign follows a week-long trial at the Royal London last year when 2,400 outpatients were tested for HIV. The trial found eight with HIV who had not been diagnosed and went on to receive treatment.
Viral Hepatitis and HIV caused three million deaths worldwide in 2010, with another 2.4m from TB and malaria.