Monday 25th November 2013
Filmmaker David Furnish today made a dramatic appeal for routine HIV testing.
The civil partner of Elton John is backing a campaign by Barts to complete the biggest-ever hospital-based programme to screen for the disease.
The groundbreaking project is aimed at promoting earlier diagnosis and treatment to identify people who do not realise they are infected.
Furnish said an "AIDs-free future" in the UK was possible if HIV testing was made a normal part of looking after health.
He said: "Knowing your HIV status is so important for your future health and that of your loved ones. The scale of work being done at Barts Health is ground-breaking and historic in the UK, and will hopefully go a long way towards breaking down the taboos that still exist around HIV.
"If we can make HIV testing a normal part of looking after your health, we can truly envisage and AIDs-free future in the UK."
The Barts campaign is focused on offering all outpatients at its six hospitals an HIV test as part of HIV testing week in Europe.
The trust which is the largest in the UK aims to screen at least 2,500 people from today to November 29.
This follows a pilot carried out by the trust at the Royal London between March and April this year.
Doctors treated eight people who did not realise they were positive as a result of this trial.
Other celebrities and politicians supporting the testing week include singers Annie Lennox and Beverley Knight as well as London Mayor Boris Johnson and MP Jim Fitzpatrick.
One 70-year-old patient also revealed today that he spent 12 months without a diagnosis because it never occurred to doctors to test him.
The man, from London, known only as Alan said: "Having been found to be positive at almost seventy years old it was a massive shock but once it had sunk in I did feel somewhat let down that nobody had suggested it before. We need to take away the stigma of being tested for HIV so that it becomes a routine test for people visiting hospital irrespective of their gender, ethnicity or age."