Britain May Test Foreign-Born Doctors, Nurses for HIV
A team of experts set up by Britain's National Health Service is likely to recommend that all health care workers recruited from other countries be required to take an HIV test prior to working in the United Kingdom, BBC News reports. Following reports that as many as 700 HIV-positive nurses -- most from Southern Africa -- were hired by NHS last year, the ministry in August set up a group to examine policy options regarding optional and mandatory HIV testing of health care workers. No evidence exists to suggest that any HIV-positive health care workers have transmitted HIV to any patient in the United Kingdom. British health workers are currently not required to be tested for HIV, and it is unknown whether an HIV-positive test result would exclude a doctor or nurse from working in the NHS, according to BBC News (BBC News, 7/22). Although NHS has not yet instituted a policy change regarding HIV testing, the ministry is "very near" to such a decision, according to a source that spoke with the London Times (Agence France-Presse, 7/22).
'Desperate' NHS Hires From Sub-Saharan Africa
The NHS, "desperat[e]" to find nurses, is increasing the number of foreign-born nurses hired, although the ministry said that it tries not to recruit from developing nations and those nations hit hardest by HIV/AIDS. However, critics of the NHS said that the agency still "draw[s] heavily" on such nations (BBC News, 7/22). According to Reuters, the number of nurses recruited by NHS from sub-Saharan Africa has "risen dramatically" in the past few years. The ministry last year recruited more than 2,100 nurses from South Africa, approximately 470 from Zimbabwe and 100 from Botswana, according to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (Reuters, 7/22).