- 10 updates
The Terrence Higgins Trust has welcomed the changes announced by the Department of Health today that will enable those living with HIV to carry out certain procedures in patients.
Sir Nick Partridge, chief executive at Terrence Higgins Trust said:
Approximately 22,600 people in the UK do not know they have the HIV virus according to the Health Protection Agency.
The Government's Chief Medical Officer hopes to reduce this number by lifting the ban on a home HIV test.
Dame Sally Davies denied this was a cost-saving move and wanted to encourage more people to get tested for the disease.
She said: "This is about allowing people who don't want to go to a clinic unless they might have it, checking themselves."
British Dental Association scientific adviser Prof Damien Walmsley has welcomed plans to lift a ban on NHS workers with HIV - including dentists - carrying out certain treatments on patients.
He said the new policy brought the UK in line with many other countries.
"Dentists in the UK comply with rigorous infection control procedures to protect both patients and the dental team against the risk of transmission of blood-borne infections," he added.
Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National Aids Trust has hailed the new policy for NHS workers with HIV for being "based on up-to-date scientific evidence and not on fear, stigma or outdated information".
Self-testing kits for HIV will be legalised in the UK from April 2014, with the aim of improving early detection of the disease.
If a test is positive, people will be advised to have a follow-up test at an NHS clinic to confirm the results.
According to the latest estimates, there are about 100,000 people in the UK are living with HIV, although experts say a quarter of those who are infected do not know they have it.
In 2011, there were around 6,000 new diagnoses of HIV in the UK.
England's chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has said it is time to scrap "outdated rules" which ban NHS workers with HIV carrying out certain procedures on patients.
She said that with effective treatment "people are leading lives that are normal in quality and length".
"With effective treatment, they are not infectious," she added.
Under new rules, healthcare workers with HIV will be allowed to undertake all procedures if the following conditions are met:
- They are on effective combination anti-retroviral drug therapy.
- They must also have an undetectable viral load of HIV in their system.
- Public Health England will set up a confidential register holding data on infected workers, including on their viral load and treatment.
- In addition, staff must be monitored every three months by the person treating them and by occupational health professionals.
NHS workers are currently tested for HIV at the start of their career.
Anyone going into a job that could expose patients to potential risk is also tested.
Staff are obliged under professional codes of conduct to have a further test if they think they may have been exposed to HIV, but this is not legally enforced.
The Government is to lift a ban on NHS workers with HIV carrying out certain procedures on patients.
Staff in the UK who are undergoing treatment for HIV will be able to take part in all procedures from which they are currently banned, including surgery and dentistry.
England's chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said science had moved on and it was time to scrap "outdated rules".
She added that better treatment meant HIV was often a chronic condition that could be managed, with people living long and normal lives.