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'Outdated rules' stop HIV staff performing treatments

England's chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has said it is time to scrap "outdated rules" which ban NHS workers with HIV carrying out certain procedures on patients.

At the moment we bar totally safe healthcare workers who are on treatment with HIV from performing many surgical treatments, and that includes dentists.

What we want to do - and want to get over - is how society needs to move from thinking about HIV as positive or negative and thinking about HIV as a death sentence, to thinking about whether they're infectious or not infectious.

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.

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Criteria for NHS staff with HIV to carry out procedures

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.

Ban on NHS workers with HIV to be lifted

The Government is to lift a ban on NHS workers with HIV carrying out surgical treatments Credit: ITN

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England's chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said science had moved on and it was time to scrap "outdated rules".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.

HIV self-testing kits have 'an important role to play'

The National AIDS Trust welcomed the Government's plans to allow HIV self-testing kits, saying they have "an important role to play".

Deborah Jack, the trust's chief executive, said: "With around 25,000 people in the UK living with HIV without knowing it, it is vital that we offer as many options as possible to take an HIV test.

A woman with a needle.
The National AIDS Trust said HIV self-testing kits have 'an important role to play'. Credit: Press Assocation

"Self-testing kits have an important role to play in reaching people who are uncomfortable or unable to test in a sexual health clinic or other healthcare setting.

Legalisation is an important step to ensure that the tests available are accurate, safe and appropriately regulated."

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HIV charity welcomes self-testing in homes

New law which will allow people to find out whether or not they are infected with HIV by testing in the comfort of their own homes is a "welcome" move, according to a leading HIV charity.

Lisa Power, policy director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said:

We warmly welcome this decision, which Terrence Higgins Trust has long campaigned for. People deserve to have a choice about how and where they test for HIV and proper regulation will make self testing a safe and supported option for many more people across the country.

The public response to our highly successful home sampling scheme shows that many people who have never tested before, or who have been putting off a visit to a clinic, are willing to test at home.

Currently, most HIV transmission in the UK is driven by the 25,000 people who have HIV but have not yet been diagnosed. Anything that encourages these people to test, take control of their health and get treatment is a welcome advance.

Read: Home HIV self-testing kits to be made available

HIV self-testing 'could lead to more effective treatments'

Plans to allow people to self-test whether they have HIV in their own homes follow the Health Protection Agency's warning last November that a record number of people in the UK were living with HIV, with the number of people with the virus reaching nearly 100,000.

Officials from the Department of Health are expected to say that home testing may help people detect their infection earlier on - which could lead to more effective treatment options and reduce the infection spreading.

Public Health Minister Anna Soubry is expected to say:

The stigma and fear surrounding HIV may mean that some people are afraid or reluctant to go to a clinic to be tested.

I hope that by removing the ban on self-testing kits people will be able to choose the right time and right surroundings to take a test and, if positive, help them get the best treatment available. Clear information on how to get immediate support will be provided with the kits.

Home HIV self-testing kits to be made available

People who are concerned that they might have HIV will soon be able to find out whether or not they are infected in the comfort of their own homes, officials are to announce.

At present it is illegal in the UK to do a HIV test at home and read the result yourself - people can take a sample themselves, send it off for testing in a laboratory and receive the result at a later date.

But officials are planning to change the outdated laws so people can perform a simple saliva test at home which will quickly give the user a "negative" or a "positive indication" result.

Health experts hope that making the tests more readily available will help reduce infection rates.

Two HIV-positive patients successfully stop therapy

Two HIV-positive patients in the US who underwent bone marrow transplants for cancer have stopped anti-retro viral therapy and still show no detectable signs of the virus, researchers said.

It was announced last year that blood samples taken from the men, who both had blood cancers, showed no traces of the HIV virus eight months after they received bone marrow transplants to replace cancerous blood cells with healthy donor cells.

The men, who were still on anti-HIV drugs at the time, have since stopped anti-retroviral therapy and show no signs of the virus.

The Harvard University researchers stressed it was too early to say if the men had been cured but said it was an encouraging sign that the virus had not rebounded months after drug treatment ended.

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