United Kingdom to Announce Plans for Universal HIV Testing Among New Health Workers
Prompted by fears that "hundreds" of doctors and nurses working for the National Health Service may be HIV-positive, the United Kingdom next month could announce plans for universal HIV testing for all new medical staff, London's Daily Telegraph reports. According to the Telegraph, health ministers might require all new medical staff -- approximately 18,000 per year -- to undergo HIV testing. Currently, there are no plans to require HIV testing for existing NHS medical staff. U.K. health ministers are scheduled to meet next month to "hold a consultation on proposals for HIV testing for all new health workers," according to a senior Department of Health official (Elliott, Daily Telegraph, 12/8). The U.K. is "heavily dependent" on foreign health care workers and recruits "thousands" of doctors and nurses from Africa, Asia and Australia, Reuters reports (Reuters, 12/8). Some estimates say that more than 700 HIV-positive nurses were recruited by the NHS last year, BBC News reports (BBC News, 12/8). Mandatory HIV testing for foreign health care workers was first proposed in the United Kingdom last year after the Wolverhampton Health Authority learned that it had recruited 10 HIV-positive nurses from Southern Africa. The government in August was criticized by HIV/AIDS organizations and the U.K. Nursing and Midwifery Council after it proposed HIV testing for African nurses recruited by NHS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/20). The new policy would screen all new employees due to fears that selective screening of only foreign workers could be seen as "racist," the Telegraph reports (Daily Telegraph, 12/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.