01 Dec 2023

Leeds hospitals chosen for expanded national HIV programme


LGI and St James's part of campaign to end new transmissions of HIV in England by 2030

Two Leeds hospitals have been chosen to be part of an expanded national project which aims to end new transmissions of HIV within England by 2030.

Ahead of World Aids Day today (December 1), Leeds General Infirmary and St. James’s University Hospital were named in a government announcement as being part of a £20million National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) project.

The project will see patients with undiagnosed HIV, Hepatitis B and C picked up in a new opt-out testing programme to be carried out in 46 more emergency departments in 32 high HIV prevalence areas of the country. 

A key element of the programme is to help identify a significant proportion of the estimated 4,500 people living with undiagnosed HIV across the country, preventing new transmissions, and saving more lives.

Opt-out testing also provides links to medication, a treatment and care pathway to help people to live long and healthy lives where the virus is undetectable.       

Earlier this year, Leeds became the first city in the Yorkshire and Humber region to become a ‘Fast-Track City’ joining Brighton, Bristol, Liverpool, London, Manchester and over 500 cities globally who have declared their commitment to ending the HIV, viral hepatitis, and tuberculosis epidemics by 2030.    

The theme of this year’s World Aids Day is ‘Let Communities Lead’, providing an opportunity to reflect and celebrate the city’s commitment to ensure communities play a leadership role in HIV responses in Leeds.  

Leeds City Council executive member for adult social care, public health and active lifestyles Councillor Salma Arif said:   

“The government’s announcement to commit to expanding opt-out Hepatitis B and C and HIV testing across more emergency departments including Leeds is a huge triumph. Opt-out testing helps address health inequalities by making sure under-represented groups are not left behind. 

“It provides a valuable opportunity to diagnose and treat thousands more people, particularly from groups that are less likely to come forward for routine testing and are disproportionately affected by higher rates of blood borne viruses and associated stigma, such as those from ethnic minorities and women.

“This year Leeds joined the global Fast-Track Cities Initiative to commit to ending HIV, viral hepatitis, and TB endemics by 2030. This announcement ultimately enables Leeds to reach this ambition while saving lives in the process.”

Director of public health for Leeds City Council Victoria Eaton said:

“This transformational achievement will significantly scale up testing within the city to ensure people are diagnosed earlier, linked to effective treatment, and achieve an undetectable viral load to prevent transmission.  In addition to reaching those groups who are less likely to access sexual health services, it provides the opportunity to re-engage people who have been previously diagnosed and not accessing treatment or care.”

Dr Sarah Schoeman, Sexual Health and HIV Consultant at Leeds Sexual Health and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust and Chair of Fast Track Cities Leeds said:

We are absolutely delighted by the government announcement that funding for Emergency Department (ED) bloodborne virus (BBV) opt-out testing is being expanded from ‘extremely high’ to ‘high’ HIV prevalence areas which includes Leeds.

“As a city which led on this important initiative with our ‘Get TestED Leeds’ project between 2018 and 2020 but had to discontinue this work due to Covid-19 impacts and financial constraints, we have been working hard to make the case for expanding the national funding programme to other areas like ours.

“We will now be able to start this programme up again and our Leeds Fast-Track Cities team will be working closely together with Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust to ensure that this happens as soon as possible. Opt-out testing in our emergency departments will enable us to reach many more people living with HIV and Hepatitis B and C in Leeds who are currently unaware that they have these infections and link them to treatment and care, which significantly benefits their health as well as reducing transmission to others.”

Notes to editors:

  • For more information relating to HIV and support for people living with HIV in Leeds please contact Jeni Hirst, Director of BHA Leeds Skyline on 0113 2449767 or jeni@thebha.org.uk
  • Visit Yorkshire MESMAC’s website to book a HIV test and for more information about their services relating to HIV.
  • For more information relating to HIV please contact Tom Doyle, Chief Executive of Yorkshire MESMAC on 0113 244 4209 / 07771 931 421 or t.doyle@mesmac.co.uk.
  • Information on HIV testing sessions in Leeds can be found at www.startswithme.org.uk or www.mesmac.co.uk  


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Leeds City Council communications and marketing,

Email: communicationsteam@leeds.gov.uk

Tel: 0113 378 6007


For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team