A study was undertaken of the views of users of two genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics in England on unlinked anonymous testing (UAT) for HIV. The UAT programme measures the prevalence of HIV in the population, including undiagnosed prevalence, by testing residual blood (from samples taken for clinical purposes) which is anonymised and irreversibly unlinked from the source. 424 clinic users completed an anonymous questionnaire about their knowledge of, and attitudes towards, UAT. Only 1/7 (14%) were aware that blood left over from clinical testing may be tested anonymously for HIV. A large majority (89%) said they would agree to their blood being tested, although 74% wanted the opportunity to consent. These findings indicate broad support for UAT of blood in a group of patients whose samples are included in the HIV surveillance programme. The findings suggest the need for greater attention to be given to the provision of information and, if replicated in a larger survey, may justify a reappraisal of UK policy on UAT.
- informed consent
- HIV infection and AIDS
- demographic surveys/attitudes
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Funding This study was funded by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC grant reference RES-000-22-2096).
Competing interests AK is Director of Public Health Strategy and Medical Director at the Health Protection Agency (HPA). The views expressed here, however, are those of the authors and do not represent the views of the HPA.
Ethics approval The study was approved by the South West research ethics committee (reference 07/H0206/46) and by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine ethics committee (reference 5174).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.