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Chelsea and Westminster projects increase access to HIV tests

06 July 2010

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is the biggest HIV treatment centre in Europe and our staff have often led the way in improving services and spearheading research.

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is the biggest HIV treatment centre in Europe and our staff have often led the way in improving services and spearheading research.

Two new projects to improve access to HIV testing show that Chelsea and Westminster remains at the cutting-edge of this specialist area of medicine.

Research demonstrates success of HIV testing in A&E

A new research study by clinicians at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital has demonstrated that offering HIV tests to patients in the Emergency Department is accepted by both patients and staff and can help detect new cases of HIV.

The study, by Dr Michael Rayment and colleagues, was presented at the Joint Conference of the British HIV Association (BHIVA) and the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) – and reported by the British Medical Journal.

The aim of this study, which was funded by the Department of Health and the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) for Northwest London, was to assess the feasibility and acceptability to both patients and staff of routinely offering HIV tests in A&E.

Dr Keith Radcliffe, President of BASHH, told the British Medical Journal that more than a third of people with HIV get a late diagnosis which causes avoidable morbidity, mortality and transmission of the virus to other people – routinely testing patients coming to A&E is one way of diagnosing HIV at an earlier stage.

The Chelsea and Westminster research study, carried out over a three-month period, showed that of 3,049 eligible patients offered an HIV test, 2,123 accepted.

Of these 2,123 patients, four new HIV diagnoses were made and all four patients were transferred to care.

Before the study started, staff working in A&E had anxieties about both the feasibility of carrying out testing and the reaction of patients.

Focus groups of staff held after the three-month research study demonstrated a high level of satisfaction among staff that carrying out testing was both feasible and acceptable to most people.

Further work has been undertaken in A&E, with the support of the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) for Northwest London, to establish the most sustainable ways of continuing to offer HIV tests in the department.

56DS-Advert.jpgNew rapid HIV testing advertising campaign launched

A new campaign to encourage more regular HIV testing in the gay community has been launched by 56 Dean Street, the Trust’s modern and hi-tech sexual health centre in Soho.

56 Dean Street offers free on-the-spot HIV testing and Hepatitis B vaccinations as well a full range of more comprehensive sexual health services and advice.

Last year the centre was responsible for diagnosing 20% of all new HIV diagnoses among gay men in London and staff at 56 Dean Street are keen to continue and improve on this trend.

Dr Alan McOwan, Service Director for Sexual Health at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, says: “We want to remind people that 56 Dean Street offers the world’s fastest HIV antibody test.

“Working with healthcare communications agency 90TEN Healthcare, our campaign visually communicates to everybody that anyone can receive a result in just five minutes.

“One in nine gay men have HIV and two-thirds of undiagnosed men think they are HIV negative, so it is essential to emphasise how easy and accessible it is to get tested. Data shows that testing early can add 16 years to someone’s life.”

The advertising campaign has been featured in gay media, at Leicester Square tube station and on the iPhone application Grindr. An animation has been displayed on video screens outside DV8, the gay lifestyle store on Old Compton Street, to advertise 56 Dean Street’s proximity to most gay bars and venues in Soho.