Tackling late HIV diagnosis: Lessons from the UK in the COVID-19 era.
Boardman E., Boffito M., Chadwick DR., Cheserem E., Kabagambe S., Kasadha B., Elliott C.
INTRODUCTION: Late diagnosis of HIV is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, and an increased risk of non-infectious comorbidities. On a societal level, late diagnosis leads to higher treatment and healthcare costs and is a major driver of HIV transmission. Despite improvements in other areas of the HIV care pathway, late diagnosis remains an individual and public health concern globally. OBJECTIVE: To examine the barriers to HIV testing and highlight successful strategies to improve prompt diagnosis. This review describes the prevalence of late diagnosis in the UK and discusses key factors that contribute to late diagnosis, including the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Late HIV diagnosis is lower in the UK than in most other European countries. In this review, pilot projects and ongoing initiatives that have reduced late diagnosis in the UK are highlighted; moreover, further strategies for improving prompt diagnosis are suggested. CONCLUSIONS: Insufficient testing is the fundamental reason for late HIV diagnosis, with societal, systemic, and individual factors all contributing to inadequate testing. Improving access to testing, removing barriers to health-seeking behaviour, and ensuring all people with HIV indicator conditions are promptly tested are key to reducing the rates of late diagnosis globally.