HC Deb 10 May 1988 vol 133 c143
19. Mr. Butler

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has any plans to promote HIV screening on a voluntary basis.

Mr. Newton

I refer my hon. Friend to my reply to him of 12 April, at column 101.

Mr. Butler

My hon. Friend will be aware that the French Government promote voluntary testing and have a large number of regional centres to which they encourage the population to go for such testing. Why have we followed a different course in this country?

Mr. Newton

My hon. Friend will be well aware that we have given extensive publicity to the availability of testing and made it very clear in our information material that people who are worried about being infected should seek expert advice. That was made clear, for example, in the leaflet distributed to all households. Of course, if further steps are required we shall be prepared to consider them. y hon. Friend will know that we shall shortly be examining the report from Dr. Joe Smith of the Public Health Laboratory Service on various related issues.

Sir Nicholas Bonsor

My hon. Friend will be well aware of the concern in large parts of the medical profession that we are not adequately aware of the trend of HIV in this country. I hope that he will seriously consider taking on not only voluntary but compulsory testing where necessary, perhaps in the armed forces or the prison population, so that monitoring of the progress of the virus can be accurate and adequate.

Mr. Newton

I note my hon. Friend's suggestions, but he will know that we have not so far felt it right to go down the path of compulsory testing. There is no doubt that it would raise some substantial issues. Again I refer in part to the report from Dr. Joe Smith, which we shall be studying.