Opt-out testing will help eliminate new HIV cases, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has called on a restored Executive to match England's target of eliminating new HIV cases by 2030, and to use a new system of testing which has proven helpful in pilots to help do so.

Paula Bradshaw World Aids Day

Speaking on World Aids Day, the South Belfast MLA stated: "A pilot opt-out testing scheme in parts of England already known to have high prevalence of HIV, where tests for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C are added to standard blood tests, has proven extremely successful in identifying further cases early. This then enables earlier intervention to prevent damage to the immune system.

"The scheme has proven particularly successful because it does not require attendance at a sexual health clinic. Instead, it can be carried out as part of general health checks.

"It was part of pioneering plans aimed at eliminating new HIV cases in England by 2030. For relatively little up-front cost, it delivers earlier intervention meaning vastly improved quality of life and less dependence on the public health system later on.

"In Northern Ireland, a restored Executive should set a similar target for elimination, and among the actions to attain this target an incoming Minister should explore how such an opt-out testing scheme could be most effectively applied here."