Fast track HIV testing across Cumbria to combat late diagnosis rate
FAST-TRACK HIV screening which could dramatically improve the health outcomes for patients is being trialled at 15 pharmacies across Cumbria.
Since November last year the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has been running a trial offering tests for the virus that can diagnose a patient within 15 minutes.
A spokesman for the trust said although cases of HIV in Cumbria were low, around 60 per cent of people with the disease are diagnosed late.
Matt Phillips, clinical director for sexual health services, said: "Traditionally in Cumbria there is not a lot of HIV around. That means people are diagnosed late. That can have an impact on their wellbeing. In 2016 we made a bid to Public Health England to try and make HIV testing more available."
Prince Harry undergo the finger prick test to show how easy the procedure is to test for HIV.
The £67,000 bid was successful and the year-long scheme was launched.
Mr Phillips said the move was made by the trust as a measure to reduce the number of late diagnoses.
He continued: "It's a proactive action. The data shows in 2014 our late diagnosis rate was 60 per cent. We wouldn't diagnose a lot of people but, when we did, it was late. We're trying to make that diagnosis earlier."
The scheme has been rolled out to specialist pharmacies across the entire county. Two locations in Barrow have been selected to take part as well as pharmacies in Whitehaven, Carlisle and Keswick.
The free test only requires a finger prick to take a small amount of blood. Because the test only takes between five and 15 minutes to get a result, members of the partnership trust have said that speed is a big selling point for the scheme.
Mr Phillips said: "People can now decide in the morning that they want a test and have a result in 10 to 15 minutes."
He added 100 per cent of people who have used the service have rated the service as good to excellent.
Ultimately the benefit will be in the improved health of those living with HIV, says Mr Phillips.
He said: "There are implications if someone is diagnosed late, but what happens in parts of Barrow and the South Lakes is now a focus on the patient. We look at what will make their lives better and then we bid."
Cohen Pharmacy, Rawlinson Street
Cohen Pharmacy, Middlefield
Mirehouse Pharmacy, Meadow Road
Seacliffe Pharmacy, High Road
Urwin Chemists, Main Road
Dobie H S, Curzon Street
Cohen Pharmacy, Station Street
Well Pharmacy, North Carlisle Medical Centre, Eden Street
Well Carlisle, Fusehill Medical Centre, Fusehill Street
Dalston Pharmacy, Central Avenue
Daltston Pharmacy, Arnside House
H Jobson Chemist, Market Place
Morrisons Pharmacy, Brunswick Road
Staveley Pharmacy, Main Street