Brighton’s rough sleepers offered HIV and hepatitis screening

June 23, 2020

Some 200 people sleeping rough in three hotels in Brighton due to the coronavirus pandemic are being offered hepatitis and HIV tests.

Brighton charity the Martin Fisher Foundation set up the screening programme, which started on Monday, June 22, in partnership with the not-for-profit organisation EmERGE M-Health, saying it had created a “once-in-a-lifetime chance to reach out to this hard-to-find group”.

Finger-prick tests are being offered to homeless people living in the Britannia, the King’s and the Brighton hotels and participants are being given a £5 food voucher for their time.

Outreach workers from Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust and the Terrence Higgins Trust are working with support workers from homeless charity St Mungo’s to provide the tests.

The MFF said dried blood spot sampling (DBS) was the “preferred testing method” and gave “highly accurate” results, adding that the HIV virus could now be controlled and not passed on with the help of just one tablet a day.

It added that hepatitis C was now “completely curable” with one tablet a day for up to 12 weeks.

Dr Jaime Vera, consultant HIV physician at Brighton and Sussex University Hospital, called the screening programme a “unique opportunity to engage with a group that struggle to access testing for infections in traditional healthcare facilities”.