The emergency department at The James Cook University Hospital has launched the nation’s first pilot programme for syphilis screening for adults aged between 19 to 70 – who already have their blood sampled at the A&E.
The pilot programme will also include routine testing for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and will run for eight weeks from January.
Patients are informed if they are receiving a test for blood-borne viruses but can decline if they wish.
The ambitious initiative aims to understand if it’s an effective practice to screen people attending the A&E for these viruses.
The screening programme is successfully rolled out around the country where there are high levels of infection of HIV, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis.
Clinical director for infectious diseases, David Chadwick said: “We are very excited to be doing this project, along with our emergency medicine colleagues the trust.
As well as contributing towards national targets to eliminate hepatitis C and HIV, this will be the first pilot programme nationally to include syphilis screening and may help to establish whether this is worth including in other ED screening programmes around the UK."
The opt-out testing will enable the emergency department team to identify any undiagnosed infections and offer early treatment whilst preventing further transmission of infections.
The team will contact the patient to arrange an appointment if they have received a positive result and will discuss the next steps.
Individuals can assume their tests to be negative for HIV, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis if they do not hear anything within 28 days.
Catriona Lane, emergency department consultant, said: “It is fantastic to be able to help link our emergency department into such an important programme.
It will not only help us to identify new patients but also those who may have dropped off the system and help give them the treatment they need.”