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GPs go forth

GPs miss HIV diagnosis in half of patients

GPs are missing a diagnosis of HIV in half of patients who consult during their period of primary infection, a new study concludes.

Researchers warned that HIV testing needed to become ‘normalised' in primary care after finding patients with indicative symptoms were often not tested by their GP.

A team of genitourinary medicine researchers in Brighton looked at 108 patients with a recent HIV diagnosis and asked them about whether they had had symptoms during their primary infection.

Seventy per cent had suffered symptoms and 53% presented to a healthcare provider – mostly a GP, although in some cases A&E or a GUM clinic. But the study, published online by Sexually Transmitted Infections, found half of these patients were not HIV tested.

Dr William Ford-Young, a GP in Macclesfield and member of the RCGP sex, drugs & HIV working group, said: ‘It's difficult for GPs as we see so many people with flu-like symptoms but we should be doing a quick risk assessment in people we feel are at risk.'

Almost nine out of ten of the patients in the study were gay or bisexual men.

In September, a letter from the CMO recommended more HIV testing be done in non-GU settings, particularly general practice.

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