HIV surveillance systems

Public Health England (PHE) uses a number of surveillance systems to collect HIV data nationally.

The HIV and AIDS Reporting System (HARS)

The HARS dataset was developed by Public Health England (PHE) in conjunction with Department of Health and the Clinical Reference Group for HIV. HARS is a consultation based, disaggregate dataset which is submitted on a quarterly basis, and reported by all outpatient HIV service providers.

The HARS dataset is designed to:

  • reduce the reporting burden for reporting sites
  • increase the efficiency of HIV surveillance
  • enhance standard HIV surveillance outputs
  • produce quality of care indicators
  • directly support commissioning services

The dataset is modelled against the NHS data dictionary which ensures all data items are consistently reported across the NHS. HARS files are submitted in XML format using the HARS XML schema. This is a compulsory component of all NHS data systems and improves data quality by ensuring the correct formatting of all data items in the file.

Upload and validation

HARS files are submitted to PHE’s HIV and STI web portal. On upload, the file undergoes a 2 stage validation process:

Stage 1: verification against XML schema

The uploaded file is verified against the HARS XML schema and any formatting issues or missing mandatory variables are identified and made available to the user. These must be corrected and re-uploaded to the web portal before the file can be accepted to the next stage.

Stage 2: PHE validations

Once the file passes the XML verification stage, it is validated against a set of PHE validation rules which runs more detailed checks on the data. Users will receive an email containing details of any errors in the file. File containing ‘major’ errors will be rejected and these must be corrected and re-uploaded to the web portal for the file to be accepted.

Changes to HARS:

Since the Information Standard (ISB1570) was approved in 2012, a number of amendments to the dataset were required to be able to capture developments in HIV diagnosis and treatment and to improve data quality. These changes have now been accepted by NHS Digital. The initial version of HARS will now be known as HARSv1.1 and the updated version will now be known as HARSv1.2.

The Information Standard Notice (ISN) for the updated standard and further information regarding the change can be found on the NHS Digital website.

Contact if you have any queries about HARSv1.2.

Survey of Prevalent HIV Infections Diagnosed (SOPHID)

Information from all people living with a diagnosed HIV infection and accessing care at NHS services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are report to SOPHID. SOPHID data are used to plan services, monitor the quality of care received by patients and their clinical outcomes.

More information about SOPHID is available on the archived HPA site.

SOPHID has been superseded by HARS.

HIV & AIDS New Diagnoses Database (HANDD)

Reports of new HIV diagnoses, AIDS and Deaths are received from clinicians and microbiologists. Data contribute to understanding of HIV transmission and are used to monitor exposure to HIV.

More information about HANDD is available on the archived HPA site

Recent Infection Testing Algorithm (RITA)

The Recent HIV Infection Testing Algorithm programme monitors the number of patients who recently acquired HIV infection at the time of diagnosis. Data are used to help understand trends in HIV transmission.

More information about RITA is available on the archived HPA site

CD4 Surveillance Scheme

The National CD4 Surveillance scheme monitors trends in immunosuppression associated with HIV infection by collecting data on CD4 T-lymphocyte (CD4 cell) counts performed by laboratories in England and Wales. Data are used to calculate late HIV diagnoses, access to HIV care and the clinical outcomes of those living with HIV.

More information about RITA is available on the archived HPA site

Accessing HIV data

HIV data are publicly accessible from the following sources:

  • annual HIV data tables. These present data on new HIV and AIDS diagnoses and deaths in people with HIV as well as people accessing HIV services. Data are presented at different levels of geographies and also focus on key risk groups
  • Sexual Health Profiles. These use interactive mapping tools to present data on key sexual health information at Local Authority (upper and lower tier, including unitary authorities), regional and national levels
  • Local Authority STI and HIV Epidemiology Reports (LASERs). These reports aim to describe STIs and HIV in the local area so that commissioners can effectively target service provision. LASERs are generated annually and are available via the HIV and STI web portal

The principles for accessing, storing and sharing HIV data are outlined in the PHE data sharing policy.

Updates to this page

Published 1 January 2008

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