Background Data from the Health Protection Agency shows that 25% of people living with HIV in the UK are unaware of their diagnosis. This has serious health implications for them and others.
The National Strategy for Sexual Health and HIV set a target of 60% testing uptake by 2007. 69% of STI attendees at GUM clinics in England in 2010 were tested for HIV. Regional data from the Health Protection Unit shows a 70% uptake of HIV testing in women attending our clinic. Recent data from the UK and Australia has documented variable HIV testing rates among clinicians with a trend towards more junior doctors being more likely to offer a test.
Objectives To identify HIV testing rates according to grade of clinician.
Methods Women attending our service as new or rebook patients between March 2009 and January 2010 were seen by clinicians representing eight different grades of staff. The women's response to the offer of an HIV test was recorded. These data were analysed according to the grade of the staff member.
Results 3973 women were seen by 42 different clinicians. 2982 accepted an HIV test (P1A); 980 declined a test (P1B) and 11 deferred testing (P1C) (see abstract P11 table 1).
Conclusions There are many perceived barriers to HIV testing and it is often quoted that testing rates are lowest among non-specialists. However, there is little published data on the impact of the individual clinician on HIV testing. Encouragingly, our data has shown that more junior staff, having trained in an environment where HIV is increasingly recognised as a treatable condition, are confident to offer HIV testing and do so as effectively as consultants. We should learn from them with respect to promoting HIV testing in our clinics and not underestimate the value of ongoing training and support in this important area.