Public Health Minister defends GPs from criticism over HIV testing

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Public Health Minister Jane Ellison has responded to criticism from Ed Miliband that too many healthcare professionals are failing to offer HIV tests to groups most at risk of infection.

The Labour leader spoke of his concern at recent research showing many doctors are failing to offer HIV tests.

Mr Miliband told “The Government has a responsibility to work with GPs and health centres to make sure, not only are they aware of their responsibilities, but also to encourage them to provide testing.”

He claimed large-scale reductions in the number of NHS walk-in clinics were undermining efforts to increase HIV testing.

A report by Public Health England in November last year showed despite clear national guidelines recommending GPs in areas with high rates of HIV routinely offer tests to all new registered patients, most are failing to do so.

At the same time it was found 16% of gay and bisexual men do not have an HIV test when attending a sexual health clinic.

Responding to Mr Miliband’s comments, Jane Ellison, Minister for Public Health said in a statement to “It’s important to diagnose and treat people with HIV quickly. GPs have a key role to play in this and we are aware of some good examples of best practice from around the country. However, we also need to work within the community to encourage people to come forward and be tested.”

The Conservative MP for Battersea added: “This is why we have given the Terrence Higgins Trust £2.4 million this year to deliver a national HIV awareness and prevention campaign.”