HIV testing: new sentinel surveillance data shows 0.5% of tests are positive.


  • Jo Whelan
  • Medical News
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About 0.5% of all HIV tests performed in England in 2018 were positive, according to new figures released by Public Health England from its sentinel surveillance programme. The 17 participating sentinel centres tested 750,313 samples for HIV (excluding antenatal screening), from 637,653 individuals aged 16 years and over. These centres cover approximately 40% of the population.

  • Overall, 3,452 individuals (0.5%) tested positive. The highest rate of positivity was in the West Midlands (0.8%).
  • Males were more likely to test positive than females (0.8% vs 0.2%, p
  • Positivity was highest in the 45-54 age group (1.0%), followed at 0.7% by the 35-44 and 55-64 year age groups.
  • Tests were most commonly carried out in GUM clinics (32.5% of the 657,827 tests with location data available), with a further 14.3% performed in accident and emergency departments and 13.5% in general practice. The highest rates of positivity were in individuals tested in specialist HIV services (6.1%) and specialist liver services (1.4%).
  • Of 113,481 women who underwent antenatal screening for HIV in participating sentinel centres, 118 (0.1%) tested positive.
  • In 2018, 11,990 individuals were tested at least once for HTLV-1 specific antibodies in 10 participating sentinel centres. Overall, 158 (1.3%) individuals tested positive.