Now is the time for action, NAZ's response to the APPG on HIV/AIDS report into HIV testing in the UK

21 JUly 2021

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Today the APPG on HIV/AIDS has published its report on HIV testing in the UK. NAZ, a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME)-led sexual health agency based in London welcomes the recommendations in the report, which provides a real opportunity for change. But testing alone isn’t enough, we need wraparound holistic care to support access to treatment and adherence.  Every test is an opportunity to deliver a prevention intervention.

 

“Today’s report from the APPG is a welcome one, this report makes clear that when it comes to HIV testing and prevention, we need to be more ambitious; otherwise BAME communities will be left behind.”

- Parminder Sekhon, Chief Executive Officer, NAZ

BAME communities are disproportionally impacted by HIV. Of the 4,139 new HIV diagnoses in the UK in 2019 (1), 44% were among BAME communities (2) of which 26% were among Black ethnicities (3) despite making up only 3.0% of UK population in the last census.

This disproportionate impact demonstrates the importance of understanding the needs of BAME communities when designing HIV testing programmes and improving testing uptake.

 

The report recommends opt-out testing be adopted across several healthcare settings to ensure testing is more accessible. Highlighting the need for a more tailored approach for people from Black and Brown ethnicities and those from deprived backgrounds who experience vastly different HIV outcomes compared to the wider UK population. While there have been notable improvements in the identification and treatment of HIV, they have not been experienced equally in society.

In 2019 105,200 people were estimated to be living with HIV infection in the UK, of these, 6,600 (6%) are estimated to be undiagnosed (4). Of those who acquired HIV heterosexually, it is estimated that 500 were Black African men, 800 Black African women; 800 non-Black African men, 1,000 non-Black African women remain undiagnosed (5).

 

One vital way to address these differences in outcomes lies in the way testing reaches our communities. We need to ask some uncomfortable questions about why there are still so many testing opportunities that are missed within statutory settings. We want to ensure that the offer of HIV testing to all populations becomes routine across the UK.

“NAZ supports the APPG’s report on increasing and normalising HIV testing across the UK. However, offering a test alone will not end the HIV epidemic. Our testing is only as good as the systems around it. We must strive to deepen our understanding of the structural barriers that make engagement harder for Black and Brown and Minoritised communities.

 

We hope that the Government seizes this vital moment to reach those that need our support the most by increasing access to HIV testing and understanding what motivates testing anxiety. We hope that our recommendations will help contribute towards a more inclusive environment to end new HIV transmissions by 2030 through better prevention, detection and treatment for everyone.”

- Parminder Sekhon, Chief Executive Officer, NAZ

ENDS 

1. Trends in HIV testing, new diagnoses and people receiving HIV-related care in the UK: data to end Dec 2019 – PHE (2020) Accessible via: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/939478/hpr2020_hiv19.pdf

2. (of those where ethnicity is known). National HIV surveillance data tables, UK 2019– PHE (2020)

3. (of those where ethnicity is known). National HIV surveillance data tables, UK 2019– PHE (2020)

4. Trends in HIV testing, new diagnoses and people receiving HIV-related care in the UK: data to end Dec 2019 – PHE (2020) Accessible via: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/939478/hpr2020_hiv19.pdf

(of those where ethnicity is known). National HIV surveillance data tables, UK 2019– PHE (2020)

(of those where ethnicity is known). National HIV surveillance data tables, UK 2019– PHE (2020)

Trends in HIV testing, new diagnoses and people receiving HIV-related care in the UK: data to end Dec 2019 – PHE (2020)

5. HIV in the United Kingdom 2020 slide set, PHE, (2020) Accessible via: https://khub.net/documents/135939561/174103916/HIV+in+the+United+Kingdom+-+2020+slideset.odp/dce9e516-09bc-f2e6-91e1-e91f1decd72c?t=1606756039179