Leeds General Infirmary and St. James’s University Hospital have joined the £20 million National HIV Programme to eliminate new HIV transmissions in England by 2030. Through opt-out testing in emergency departments, they aim to identify undiagnosed HIV, Hepatitis B, and C, and connect patients to treatments for undetectable viral loads.
What is the goal of Leeds hospitals joining the expanded National HIV Programme?
Leeds General Infirmary and St. James’s University Hospital aim to eliminate new HIV transmissions in England by 2030. They’re part of a £20 million initiative for opt-out testing in emergency departments to identify undiagnosed HIV, Hepatitis B, and C, linking patients to treatments for undetectable viral loads.
Leeds Hospitals on the Frontline of National Health Campaign
Leeds General Infirmary and St. James’s University Hospital are now key players in a nationwide crusade to terminate new HIV transmissions in England by the year 2030. Revealed on the eve of World Aids Day, these institutions are part of a £20million National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) project. Patients with undiagnosed HIV, Hepatitis B, and C will be identified through a novel opt-out testing programme. This initiative is set to be implemented in 46 emergency departments across 32 high HIV prevalence areas within the country.
The essence of the project is to discover a significant segment of the estimated 4,500 individuals living with undiagnosed HIV nationwide. By doing so, it aims to prevent new transmissions and potentially save lives. The initiative does not stop at diagnosis; it establishes a link to medication, offering a treatment and care pathway for people to lead long and healthy lives where the virus is undetectable.
Earlier this year, Leeds was recognized as the first city in the Yorkshire and Humber region to join the ‘Fast-Track City’ initiative. This global campaign includes over 500 cities, and Leeds’ participation is a testament to its commitment to combating HIV, viral hepatitis, and tuberculosis by 2030. The theme for this year’s World Aids Day, ‘Let Communities Lead,’ underscores the significant role that communities in Leeds play in driving the HIV response.
Pioneering Opt-Out Testing: A City’s Triumph
Leeds City Council has expressed pride in the inclusion of its hospitals in the expanded testing programme. Councillor Salma Arif, executive member for adult social care, public health, and active lifestyles, highlighted the benefits of the initiative:
“The government’s announcement to commit to expanding opt-out Hepatitis B and C and HIV testing across more emergency departments, including Leeds, is a huge triumph,” said Councillor Arif. “Opt-out testing helps address health inequalities by making sure under-represented groups are not left behind.”
Councillor Arif emphasized that opt-out testing promises to diagnose and treat thousands more people, particularly those less likely to seek routine testing. These groups often face higher rates of bloodborne viruses and associated stigma, including ethnic minorities and women.
Leeds’ commitment as a Fast-Track City is reflected in this year’s ambitious objective. This proposition allows Leeds to aspire to its 2030 target while simultaneously safeguarding lives.
Victoria Eaton, Director of Public Health for Leeds City Council, added to the discussion on the programme’s significance:
“This transformational achievement will significantly scale up testing within the city to ensure people are diagnosed earlier, linked to effective treatment, and achieve an undetectable viral load to prevent transmission,” said Eaton. She also pointed out the potential to re-engage individuals previously diagnosed with HIV who are not receiving treatment or care.
A Collaborative Effort to Eradicate HIV and Hepatitis
The delight surrounding the announcement was shared by Dr. Sarah Schoeman, Sexual Health and HIV Consultant at Leeds Sexual Health and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust and Chair of Fast Track Cities Leeds:
“We are absolutely delighted by the government announcement that funding for Emergency Department (ED) bloodborne virus (BBV) opt-out testing is being expanded,” Dr. Schoeman expressed. She recalled the success of the ‘Get TestED Leeds’ project and its temporary discontinuation due to the Covid-19 impacts and financial constraints.
The restart of the programme in Leeds, according to Dr. Schoeman, will play a crucial role in identifying individuals living with HIV and Hepatitis B and C who are currently unaware of their infections. This will enable them to be connected to treatment and care, significantly benefiting their health and reducing transmission to others.
Notes to Editors:
The provided contacts and resources serve as valuable points of reference for further information regarding HIV and support in Leeds:
- For information and support related to HIV in Leeds, contact Jeni Hirst, Director of BHA Leeds Skyline, at 0113 2449767 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Yorkshire MESMAC offers HIV testing and related services. Book a test or learn more on their website or contact Tom Doyle, Chief Executive, at 0113 244 4209 / 07771 931 421 or email@example.com.
- Leeds Sexual Health provides contraception, testing, and treatments for sexually transmitted infections. More information can be obtained via email at firstname.lastname@example.org (LCH).
- Fast-Track Cities information can be found here.
- Follow Fast-Track Cities Leeds on Twitter @LeedsFTC or contact them at email@example.com.
- World AIDS day details are available at www.worldaidsday.org.
- NHS England research on the programme can be found here.
The UKHSA has conducted an analysis of the initial research project and will continue to work with NIHR and NHS England to evaluate the public health impact. The programme announcement and research can be found on the UK Government website.
For media enquiries, please reach out to Leeds City Council communications and marketing via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 0113 378 6007.
- Leeds General Infirmary and St. James’s University Hospital have joined the £20 million National HIV Programme to eliminate new HIV transmissions in England by 2030.
- The hospitals will implement opt-out testing in emergency departments to identify undiagnosed HIV, Hepatitis B, and C and connect patients to treatments for undetectable viral loads.
- The initiative aims to diagnose a significant number of the estimated 4,500 individuals living with undiagnosed HIV in the country and prevent new transmissions.
- Leeds was recognized as the first city in the Yorkshire and Humber region to join the ‘Fast-Track City’ initiative, demonstrating its commitment to combating HIV, viral hepatitis, and tuberculosis by 2030.
- Opt-out testing promises to diagnose and treat thousands more people, particularly those less likely to seek routine testing, such as ethnic minorities and women.