Press statement

UNAIDS welcomes new research on ‘opt-out’ HIV testing in England

HIV opt-out testing will consolidate the gains towards HIV epidemic control in the UK

LONDON/GENEVA, 29 November 2023—Ahead of World AIDS Day (1 December) UNAIDS welcomes a new research project to potentially expand ‘opt-out’ HIV testing programmes across England. According to NHS figures, a pilot ‘opt-out’ HIV testing scheme, pioneered by the Elton John Foundation in England has identified more than 3,500 cases of three bloodborne infections since April 2022—HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C—including identifying more than 580 HIV cases of HIV.

Under pilot scheme in England, anyone having a blood test in selected hospital accident and emergency units has also been offered a test for HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, and has been given the option to opt out should they not wish to have the test. The trials have been taking place in 33 hospitals in London, Greater Manchester, Sussex and Blackpool.

"HIV opt-out testing will consolidate the gains towards HIV epidemic control in the UK," said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS. "Normalization of HIV testing will not only enable timely access to HIV treatment, allowing people with HIV to live healthy lives—it will also stop new HIV infections and reduce the stigma around getting an HIV test. It will save and change lives and help ensure that no one is left behind."

People living with HIV who are on effective HIV treatment cannot transmit the virus. In the UNAIDS Global AIDS Strategy, UNAIDS has set “95-95-95” targets. Aiming for 95% of people who are living with HIV to know their HIV status, 95% of people who know that they are living with HIV to be on lifesaving antiretroviral treatment, and 95% of people who are on treatment to be virally suppressed.

At least five countries, Botswana, Eswatini, Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Zimbabwe have already achieved the “95-95-95” targets. A further 16 other countries, eight of them in sub-Saharan Africa, the region which accounts for 65% of all people living with HIV, are also close to doing so.

On 28 November, UNAIDS released its World AIDS Day report in London, UK urging governments to Let Communities Lead across the world to in ending AIDS. The report shows that AIDS can be ended as a public health threat by 2030, but only if communities on the frontlines get the full support they need from governments and donors. The Elton John Foundation is one of the many organizations supporting community action.


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


Sophie Barton-Knott
tel. +41 79 514 6896

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