The Northern Care Alliance has announced plans to ensure no patient leaves hospital or community services with undiagnosed HIV, including Salford Royal Hospital.

The Northern Care Alliance (NCA) is an NHS Group that provides a range of healthcare services from five hospitals and community service, including Salford Royal Hospital.

Salford has a high prevalence of HIV, with over 2 per 1000 people known to have HIV in this area.

HIV is now a treatable, long term condition. Diagnosis and effective treatment allow people to live a normal life expectancy. Treatment also means that people living with HIV will not pass on it on to their sexual partners.

A spokesperson from the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group said: “In the UK, access to HIV treatment is excellent and over 90% of individuals with HIV have been diagnosed, with a blood test.

“Action is needed to ensure that the care we provide is suited to the people who use our hospitals.”

The group are stressing the importance of an early diagnosis in reducing the illnesses caused by HIV and transmission between partners.

The spokesperson explained: “Unfortunately, illness and death due to HIV still occurs and are linked to late diagnosis. The sooner a person knows they have HIV, the better for their health. Timely, early diagnosis and treatment is absolutely key to ending illness caused by HIV and ending transmission of HIV between partners.”

To ensure diagnosis is possible, the five hospitals and community services will be aiming to offer HIV testing to each person attending appointments and using the emergency services. This strategy will be implemented in priority areas first.

Alongside this, the NCA have plans to educate and engage communities to increase the understanding of HIV testing.

The spokesperson said: “A subgroup of our ‘Task & Finish’ group on HIV testing, led by HIV specialist nurse Jenni Cawsey, is developing a range of materials and activities to increase knowledge of HIV and the need for testing in the local communities.”

The group will be working with local faith leaders and setting up health promotion stalls in local supermarkets and hospitals to increase the understanding of HIV in communities.

The NCA will also be releasing promotional materials in their hospitals to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV.

They concluded: “Within the hospital we are developing health education posters to display throughout the organisation so that staff, patients and visitors will have the opportunity to see positive informative messages about HIV, aiming to reduce stigma and increase awareness.

To learn more about the NCA you can visit their website.
More information about HIV is available from Manchester’s George House Trust.

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