The National AIDS Trust has called for the incorporation of at-home testing kits for HIV into UK strategies following their approval for sale in the US.
Earlier this week, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a rapid, at-home HIV test for the first time.
OraQuick, which will sold over-the-counter, is an oral swab test which gives a result in 20-40 minutes.
The FDA said it could potentially “identify large numbers of previously undiagnosed HIV infections, especially if used by those unlikely to use standard screening methods”.
NAT has called on the UK government to legalise the tests so they can be incorporated into prevention and treatment strategies east of the Atlantic.
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT, said: “NAT welcomes the lead taken by the US Food and Drug Administration in approving HIV test kits and we call on the UK Government also to legalise and regulate them. Home testing kits are currently unlawful in the UK but we know some people are already buying them online from overseas.
“Over a quarter of people with HIV don’t know they have it and half of people being diagnosed with HIV in the UK are diagnosed after the point at which they should have started treatment, with possibly serious consequences for their future health. Home testing kits, if properly used, can help increase testing and diagnoses of HIV.
“It will be far better for the Government to legalise and ensure the quality of such kits and that proper information, advice and support are available alongside their use, than for people to access such unlicensed testing kits via the internet. We need to work out a way of integrating this new and exciting technology effectively and safely into our testing strategies so that people with HIV are diagnosed as early as possible and can live long and healthy lives.”
NAT called for regulation of home testing in the UK in its recent ‘HIV Testing Action Plan’ earlier this year.