Doctors at St Thomas’ hospital’s A&E have found 78 new HIV cases after launching a blood test scheme for all its patients.
Since July 2015, all patients aged sixteen have had a blood sample tested, unless they chose to opt out.
The hospital says 29,000 people were tested during the twelve month period. The 78 people who tested positive had all been unaware they were HIV positive, while another twelve people had not sought follow-up treatment following a previous diagnosis.
The prevalence of HIV in the area of south London served by the hospital is the highest in the UK. In Lambeth, 1.5 per cent of people have HIV, and in Southwark this figure is 1.3 per cent.
Nationally, only 0.19 per cent of people have the disease, according to Public Health England.
Joel Paparello, HIV specialist nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals, said: “Our HIV screening programme is helping to identify people who might not otherwise get timely diagnoses. A quarter of the people we diagnosed had recently acquired the infection and early treatment intervention will have great personal and public health benefits.”
Dr Nick Larbalestier, consultant physician and clinical lead at the hospitals, said: “People with HIV can live long and healthy lives, but this depends on them being diagnosed promptly and receiving the specialist treatment they need.
“This is why it’s so important to normalise the testing process and increase detection rates.”