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National Aids Trust welcomes new policy for NHS staff

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the new policy for NHS workers with HIV for being "based on up-to-date scientific evidence and not on fear, stigma or outdated information".

Allowing healthcare workers living with HIV to undertake exposure-prone procedures corrects the current guidance which offers no more protection for the general public but keeps qualified and skilled people from working in the career they had spent many years training for.

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'Outdated rules' stop HIV staff performing treatments

England's chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, has said it is time to scrap "outdated rules" which ban NHS workers with HIV carrying out certain procedures on patients.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

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.

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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.

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."

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.

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.

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