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HIV testing for people who are homeless

9th June 2020

What happened?

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant London has been working together to bring many people who experience homelessness into hotels across the city, so they can stay safe.

This presented an opportunity to test many of these people for HIV and some other sexually transmitted diseases.

Fast-Track Cities London has supported the Find and Treat homeless health team, which is part of University College London Hospital, with a new testing and treating initiative for people who experience homelessness.

The initiative is run with support from Mortimer Market Centre. Fast-Track Cities are grateful to Gilead for funding this screening work.

What has the service delivered so far?

As of Friday 29 May the service has seen:

  • 362 individuals screened for HIV and hepatitis C
  • 310 individuals screened for syphilis
  • 22 people diagnosed with hepatitis C and started treatment with peer support
  • 4 people are HIV positive, all previously diagnosed, all disengaged from treatment
  • Reasons for disengagement from HIV care was homelessness, unable to attend clinic and lost medications for three of the four individuals
  • All four people started on ART
  • All four people linked in with peer services
  • Three people referred to start PrEP

Find and Treat have also involved peer advocacy services and provided information about PrEP and reducing harm at all assessments. Positive East are attending screenings in East London and Sophia’s Forum in South London. Prepster will be providing resources.

Much more testing is still planned over the coming months.

Find out more

We hosted a webinar on the testing service on Friday 26 June 2020 and you can read the slides here.

If you want to find out more about the Find and Treat service in London hotels for people who are homeless email Dr Binta Sultan, University College London at

Read more about the work to support people experiencing homelessness with their health in the homeless health during COVID-19 guide on this website.


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