Labour MPs have called for the Government to “rapidly increase” opt-out testing in HIV prevalent areas.
Charlotte Nichols said more opt-out testing would save money and help the Government reach its ambition of no new transmissions by 2030.
Ms Nichols said a culture “where failure to follow guidelines is considered wrong and HIV testing is considered routine” should be created.
Health minister Andrea Leadsom said HIV testing has made “excellent progress” with £20 million invested to deliver testing in emergency departments in areas of high HIV prevalence.
But she added the Government is “not complacent and we will not be satisfied until that number is brought to zero”.
Opening the backbench debate on national HIV testing week, Ms Nichols said: “It’s vital that we rapidly increase testing levels in high and very high prevalent areas through opt-out testing.
“That will not only save the NHS money and reduce the backlog, but it’ll enable patients to know quickly whether or not they have HIV.
“My challenge to the minister today is for her to fight the corner, to fight the inequalities within the HIV response, ensure access to testing is increased, and ensure once testing has started in these hospitals (that) funding for testing will continue until we find the last person living with undiagnosed HIV in England.
“The opportunity to eliminate new cases of a long-term condition is rare, yet we have the tools to do just that now.
“We must grasp that opportunity and create a culture where failure to follow guidelines is considered wrong and HIV testing is considered routine.”
Ms Nichols said a “simple solution” to encourage more people to get tested would be to use public message campaigns targeted messaging across radio, television and social media.
The minister said HIV testing across England has made “huge strides”, she added: “The UK’s Health Security Agency has confirmed that for the third time in a row, England achieved or exceeded the UN’s 95, 95, 95 targets.
“Meaning 95% of people with HIV are diagnosed, 98% of those diagnosed are being treated, and 98% of those on treatment are unable to pass it on.
“But whilst we have made excellent progress, we are not complacent and we will not be satisfied until that number is brought to zero.”
Ms Leadsom told MPs: “NHS England has invested 20 million to deliver opt-out HIV testing in emergency departments in areas of extremely high HIV prevalence to ensure that people who need it get the right treatment as early as possible.”
She added: “The National Institute for Health Research is now investing an additional £20 million to find out how we might go further and faster in tackling HIV rates in the additional 47 sites of high HIV prevalence across England.”
Father of the House Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) told the Commons he would be going for a test following the debate. He said: “At the conclusion of this debate, I’m going to take a HIV test.
“I don’t expect it to be a surprising result but unless people like me set an example we can’t expect others to overcome what might be embarrassment or awkwardness.”
Labour MP for Hammersmith Andy Slaughter echoed calls for more opt-out testing and pushed for better accessibility to HIV-preventing drug, PrEP.
He said: “I would like to hear a further commitment from the minister today, I would like to hear that in relation to opt-out testing, I’d like to hear that in relation to resources for sexual health clinics, and indeed the availability of PrEP.
“It has been suggested that given the expansion in services that are provided by pharmacies now, that PrEP could be added on to that.
“I see no reason why that can’t be the case, it could be perfectly safe for it to be prescribed in that way, it would take the pressure off clinics and it would make it more accessible.”
Ms Leadsom said: “There are challenges for certain groups to access the PrEP that they need, so that’s why we have developed a PrEP roadmap with colleagues from Government, local authorities, professional bodies, and voluntary and community sectors that we will be published on February 15.”
During the debate, Ms Nichols also called on the Government to launch a national programme to find those living with diagnosed HIV but not accessing care.
The Warrington North MP said: “We need to tackle the growing number of people previously diagnosed with HIV who are lost to care – previously diagnosed with HIV but not accessing the care that they need.
“UK HSA (Health Security Agency) estimates that as many as 14,000 people living with HIV in England have not been seen by their HIV clinic for at least a year, often for complex social and stigma-related reasons.”
She added: “A national programme must be urgently introduced to find everyone lost to HIV care in England and ensure they’re getting the care and life-saving treatment that they need.”