British HIV Association (BHIVA) response to Department of Health announcement 'Modernisation of HIV rules to better protect public'

Thursday 15th August 2013

This statement follows the Chief Medical Officer's announcement on the lifting (from April 2014) of bans on the sale of HIV self-testing kits and on healthcare workers with HIV carrying out certain dental and surgery procedures

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/modernisation-of-hiv-rules-to-better-protect-public

On the availability of HIV self-testing kits:
BHIVA Chair, Dr David Asboe, said: "Knowledge of HIV status leads to positive changes in sexual behaviour and timely access to antiretroviral therapy. For these reasons, and to reduce the number of people unaware of their HIV status, increasing testing has been part of national guidelines since 20081. We therefore welcome the availability of regulated HIV self-testing kits, while noting two important caveats. First, home tests can record negative results when a person first catches HIV at a time when they are usually highly infectious. False reassurance at this time could increase the risk of HIV transmission. Second, home tests also have significant rates of false positive results. It is therefore vital that home tests are not used as a substitute for the expanded testing currently available in healthcare and other settings, and that the transfer into high quality, specialist care of someone who tests positive is monitored. Psychological support and medical care are critically important. Furthermore, it is crucial that we evaluate the effectiveness of this policy in reducing undiagnosed infections without unwanted effects on behaviour, psychological wellbeing, and uptake of broader sexual health services."

On the relaxation of the ban on healthcare workers with HIV
Dr David Asboe, said "BHIVA welcomes the relaxation of the ban on healthcare workers infected with HIV working on certain dental and surgery procedures. This reflects increased confidence in the effectiveness of antiretroviral treatment in reducing viral levels and resulting infectiousness."

 

1 UK National Guidelines for HIV Testing (2008) prepared jointly by BHIVA, the British Society for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) and the British Infection Society


For further information or spokespeople for interview, please contact:
Jon Cope, Curium Communications, t: 07867 508212, e: jon@curium.cc


Notes for editors

BHIVA is the leading UK professional association representing professionals in HIV care. Founded in 1995, it is a well-established and highly respected organisation with national influence committed to providing excellence in the care of those living with and affected by HIV. BHIVA acts as a national advisory body to professions and other organisations on all aspects of HIV care. BHIVA also provides a national platform for HIV care and is represented on international, national and local committees dealing with HIV care. In addition, BHIVA works to promote undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing medical education within HIV care.