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GPs should be safety valve for STD clinics

GPs should act as a 'safety valve' for overstretched GUM clinics and offer routine

HIV tests to at-risk patients, according to a Government adviser on sexual health.

Dr Patrick French, who sits on the advisory group overseeing implementation of the Government's National Sexual Health and HIV strategy, told the Royal Society of Medicine's annual GP forum last week that the Government's strategy would double the number of patients attending STD clinics.

Dr French, genito-urinary medicine consultant at the Mortimer Market Centre in London for HIV patients, said 'STD clinics can't cope. There's a four- to six-week wait in some areas. Primary care is now more available, with 48 hours to an appointment.

'As the number of people with HIV increases and it becomes impossible for them to access specialist services, primary care will end up as a safety valve.'

Dr French added: 'People will be encouraged to go to their GP for HIV tests. Now there's a treatment that we know works, it's well worth someone knowing they are HIV positive.'

Heterosexuals, who now outnumber gay men in HIV prevalence, were more likely to visit their GP than a GUM clinic, said Dr French.

He was reviewing new guidelines on HIV, produced by the Medical Foundation for AIDS and Sexual Health (Medfash), which advise HIV testing should be done at the earliest opportunity for patients with clearly identified risk factors for HIV or associated conditions like TB or lymphoma.

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