The practice of routine HIV screening in emergency departments, GP surgeries and places likely to be visited by those at risk is both cost effective and acceptable to the public, health experts have said.
The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), and other groups, presented findings of studies supporting this view at the "Time to Test" conference in London.
The multidisciplinary conference marked the completion of a series of HIV-testing pilot projects, sponsored by the Department of Health.
Organisers included BASHH, the British HIV Association (BHIVA), the Health Protection Agency (HPA), the Children's HIV Association (CHIVA), the Department of Health (DH), the HIV Pharmacy Association (HIVPA), the National HIV Nurses' Association (NHIVNA), and the Royal College of Physicians
In a statement released to the press, the groups said the results of the pilots increased the evidence base for routine HIV testing in areas with a high prevalence of HIV.
The findings follow concerns from healthcare professionals that over half of HIV cases are routinely diagnosed late because doctors and other health workers have "preconceived ideas about their patients".
President of the Royal College of Physicians, Professor Richard Thompson, said: "As patterns of transmission change and the number of local areas with a high prevalence of HIV continues to remain high, clinical teams and commissioners need to be more proactive in their efforts to get patients into treatment early."
"About time - I and my husband have HIV late diagnosed when my husband got AIDS at 56. If routine testing had been around my health and his may have been better. Call us stupid if you like but we never suspected that his one act of unfaithfulness had given him HIV. Yes we were bit ignorant but then so many are. Routine testing is the only way. And if everyone is offered the HIV test routinely like women are the smear test or mammogram the stigma will reduce too. It is to me the only sensible way forward" - Veritee, Cornwall