NHS Highland is hoping to track down a patient who may not know they are HIV-positive.
The health board has contacted a small number of people – less than 50 – who had blood samples processed at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness in early 2021.
A positive HIV result was identified during routine processing of a blood sample.
The health board said it did not relate to the patient from whom the sample was taken, with an investigation later revealing it may have been contaminated by another patient’s sample in the laboratory.
NHS Highland said it had not yet been possible to identify the source, adding that it believed there is a patient with an undiagnosed HIV infection who could be offered treatment and support.
Dr Boyd Peters, NHS Highland’s medical director, said: “We are offering an HIV test to patients who had blood samples tested in the laboratory during a similar timeframe via a patient notification exercise (PNE).
“Letters have been sent to those individuals included within the exercise to provide them with specific advice and to offer HIV testing.
“Testing for HIV involves a blood test which is provided free of charge with results available within a couple of days.”
Dr Peters said a dedicated team of health advisors would provide practical support, guidance and advice to everyone involved in this process.
He added: “We sincerely apologise for any stress and anxiety this may cause to individual patients and the wider community.”
NHS Highland said it is estimated that there are around 500 people living in Scotland who are unaware they have the infection.
The health board said: “People living with HIV often feel completely healthy for the first five years or so of the infection, and unless tested, are unaware that they are infected.
“Diagnosing HIV at this early stage is important as it allows treatment to be started.
“Effective treatment that is started early enables people living with HIV to live a long, healthy life, and stops onward transmission.
“The Scottish Government aims to eliminate HIV transmission within Scotland by 2030.
“To play our part in the effort to achieve this goal, we are hoping that this exercise can raise awareness of HIV and encourage testing.”
Those with concerns about their HIV status are being urged to take part in free testing.
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