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UK: Terrence Higgins Trust launches postal HIV home sampling kits

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  1. Great idea! What do we need to do to open this to Scottish men?

    Is it a Scottish Gov’t issue, local NHS issue? Advise please so we can lobby correct people.

    Wonderful idea.

    1. Interestingly, the article says “Men in England” – but the website just says UK addresses?

      It looks from the website that it’s UK wide?

      What’s the situation? Pink News assuming UK = England, or THT miswording their website?

      1. This is part of the HIV Prevention England initiative that is funded by the Depaertment of Health, England. Both Scotland & Wales have devolved Health spending budgets & with the devolved administrations making decisions on HIV prevention campaigns.

        I beleive Waverlycare are the main HIV charity in Scotland with THT Scotland also providing HIV & Sexual Health Services. Not sure who funds what in the devolved Administrations.

        Perhaps contact Waverly and ask if they are planning on developing any home sampling initiatives.

      2. Didn’t know that devolution segerates Rich from Poor, Women from Men, Black from White……….. all challeninging discrimiation, money, fuelling poverty, rights………..

        A collected and co-operation approach would be in the bst interest, but hey, would would the world and its people scream about then, if we lived in that perfect society/world?

        1. I totally agree with your sentiments – we are where we are in terms if how successive Governments have funded HIV Charities to do the work on their behalf.

          The letting of short term, salami sliced contracts, with no joined up thinking has resulted in the fractured way HIV & Sexual Health is managed in the UK. Yes the overall prevalence of HIV is relatively low compared some EU Countries but we could do much better. A National Strategy would be a start me thinks!

  2. THT’s failure to recruit new service users via it’s fear-mongering pleas for gay men to test and test again reaches new levels of desperation.

    The recent G.A.Y. “test-in” in which hundreds of gay men participated revealed only several undiagnosed cases of HIV despite the likes of THT’s grim warnings that one in eight scene-going men carry the virus.

    One wonders how much commission THT is being paid to promote this latest wheeze in the absence of even a half-decent HIV prevention campaign.

    Whatever happened to those half-baked promises last year when THT was awarded the latest tranche of taxpayers’ cash from the HIV prevention budget to, finally, get to grips with fighting the disease?

    As ever false promises and only more gimmicks to boost its profitable HIV services while ignoring its remit to prevent the now all-time high rates of HIV infection.

    Despicable!

    1. The rate of diagnosis at G.A.Y was 8 cases /1000 of people tested; this indicates a very high degree of HIV prevalence within this cohort. Levels of 2 cases per 1000 are indicative of the need for increased HIV testing including the offer of tests at GP surgeries & other healthcare settings such as A&E.

      This initiative is part of HIV Prevention England & is designed to reduce the undiagnosed HIV fraction; given that up to 80% of all new infections are acquired from those undiagnosed individuals, increased testing is essential to help reduce new infections.

      The condom alone will not produce the results you are looking for Samuel, we need to use all the tools available to us, not only to reduce new infections, but to ensure early diagnosis & therefore ensure much better outcomes for those who test positive.

      Your one size fits all ancient view on HIV prevention is laughable; it is time for you to choose another charity to systematically discredit & attack.

      1. This comment has been deleted.

        1. I can do the maths Samuel, obviously statistics was not a particular strength of yours at school, oddly enough it wasn’t mine either, but I understand the epidemiology concepts involved.

          The G.A.Y cohort revealed the number of undiagnosed individuals – 8 per thousand represents just 25% of the overall prevalence of HIV (obviously those with diagnosed HIV would not be testing as they know their status).

          I believe you are alluding to the 1/7 of “scene going” individuals are HIV positive (diagnosed & undiagnosed). The basis if this figure is a study that was taken in bars using oral swabs for a period of time n the evening I think about 4 yrs. ago.

          You cannot compare the two outcomes; you may wish to downplay overall HIV prevalence, but whatever the exacting level of undiagnosed HIV it is a key driver of new infections.

          Our HIV surveillance system in the UK is second to none, so please forgive me if I prefer the HPA stats over your simplistic analysis!

    2. I understand your gripes with THT – but this programme is the right thing to do, and will lead to a lot of people who don’t go to GU clinics taking the test.

      THT head office can sometimes be very wasteful, to the detriment of branch offices – so donations should be given directly to regional branches, so the money is better used in the community.

      But don’t write off THT based on a few bad eggs. This programme really is needed.

      1. Hi Cynic, I appreciate your view to an extent but, like many other commentators to PN, the very idea of people testing at home without the back-up of qualified counselors in the event of a pos reading – which could be the result of a false reading or the user following the instructions incorrectly – is, frankly, extremely distasteful.

        And were the continued siren call to testing being balanced and backed up by some genuine HIV prevention campaigns – as in preventing the spread of HIV in the first place, NOT finding out who is already infected simply to bolster your service user base on the flimsiest and unproven pretext that this somehow makes a modicum of difference to HIV rates – then I might think differently.

        When I peruse a web site, as I just did, and am confronted by a THT banner bribing us to get tested by dangling the carrot – in this case the remotest possibility of winning an iPad Mini – at us, then you know it is scraping barrels for the benefit of its Pharma paymasters.

        1. I’ve given you +ve ticks – don’t quite know who has been marking you down for asking legitimate questions. The rhetoric from the THT has been troubling me for some time, particularly their unscientific and unsound reasoning on the blood ban, and I’m also concerned about how they present themselves – if I didn’t know better I would think I was talking to some Christian group. Particularly worrying is the fact that crazy statistics that present 20+% of all gay men in London as HIV+. Firstly, nobody has any actual data, whatsoever, on who is and isn’t gay in London, and where they are, etc., because no matter how robust the survey there will be people they a) don’t catch in surveys and b) people who don’t want to be recorded. So what they have are guesstimates.

          I also get your 0.8% and don’t know why others can’t do really basic maths. 8/100 would be 8% but 8/1000 is 0.8%, and they have no idea how many people were HIV positive or negative in that group.

          1. … and Samual B, you keep asking questions, because I want to hear the answers. You will NEVER get marked down by me for asking questions. And those who are presenting figures, my painful experience long ago is that nobody will believe you unless you have a link to a credible source, so provide a link.

          2. Try asking Samuel for a credible link and see how far you get, usually a cherry picked story with its origins in the US. He is n record of saying he prefers to rely on “gut instinct” than experts around the world – it’s all a conspiracy, the whole HIV “industry”.

            A good debater has at least some knowledge of the subject & makes the argument pertinent to the question in hand.

            The HPA has a very good surveillance system in place for HIV & other STI’s & whilst they are estimates (no one has ever said they are not) they are the best estimates.

            The HPA has a very good idea of undiagnosed HIV via its testing of anonymous blood residues taken from syphilis testing in GU clinics. If you are going to make bold statements at least do your research prior to making them!

            The devil is always in the detail!

          3. Thanks GulliverUK, quite lost for words here!

            The most interesting point about the G.A.Y. testing day is that it was an open day and fully transparent with those going in to be tested being accurately counted and the results being properly disclosed.

            There was no room for mistakes, inaccurate reporting or blatant distortion or manipulation of the data, and the 0.08% result spoke volumes about the hysteria the likes of THT have attempted to whip up about HIV prevalence in the UK, particularly within the London gay scene.

            But we didn’t really need this open day to tell us that, did we?

            No, we only need to look at today’s annual rate of 200-odd full-blown AIDS deaths to realise that were there really thousands of non-identified positive gay men out there, as claimed by the “stats”, who were/are not receiving treatments, we would be back to the late 1980s and early 1990s when our friends and lovers were dropping like flies.

            But that is not happening, is it?

          4. Given that you do not believe the HIV prevalence statistics produced by the HPA (not THT I might add) then you will need to explain the increase in new HIV infections.

            Please be advised that those of us with undetectable viral load pose a negligible risk of passing the virus on even if we all engage in unprotected sex (as you often imply that the majority of us are irresponsible), so what is driving the rate of new infections?

            Last year there were 500+ deaths related to HIV so perhaps you
            can provide the link which clearly links death by “Full blown AIDS” this is not a diagnosis I recognise, preferring the more accurate “advanced HIV infection”.

            If you are going to make bold statements do provide us with the source of your information so we may all benefit from such wisdom!

          5. PS: Hands up, I haven’tt always been quick with links because it has always appeared to be a two-way debate between myself and W6, so I have often just thought why bother because, on the odd occasion I HAVE provided a requested link or answered a question set by W6, he will then either tend to ignore the link or change tactic when I answer the question fully and in a way that contradicts his assertions, while seldom if ever conceding that I was correct.

            I would add that I’ve tremendous respect for W6 for his work in guiding HIV-positive gay men to the best treatments and using his in depth knowledge of HIV drug regimens to aid other gay men’s knowledge, which he does on a voluntary basis.

            At the end of the day we’ve a shared interest in wanting gay men to receive the best HIV prevention advice possible:- we’re just coming at this desire from opposite ends of the spectrum.

            So I’ll endeavor to back up my claims with links and references where possible and where requested from now on.

          6. I would still like to see the link to the source that suggests “200 odd” deaths to full blown AIDS, where does this figure originate from? As I say I am not familiar with a diagnosis term of “full blown AIDS”……………

            This is why I find it difficult to agree with much of what Samuel says, it is often just overblown total tosh with no basis in fact let alone scientific fact.

            I have presented Samuel with a huge amount of accurate information relating to HIV yet he still uses the term “full blown AIDS”, both insensitive & inaccurate which ever way you want to look at it!

  3. As for the policy, it sound ok, it’ll be useful for some, but you can go to a clinic, like John Hunter, and get a result in an hour, and and a confirmed result within a few days.

    In the old days I went to John Hunter, was giving a little bit of a talking to, some blood was taken, and two weeks later I went back for the results. Those two weeks were pretty much hell, ever thought running through your head, could I be positive, what if I was, how will things change, how long will I have, etc., etc. But now things are much quicker, and I don’t know if experiencing two weeks of hell was a good thing, or not. But, if you know where the John Hunter is, you can go in, no appointment, and get a test for free and an initial result in 1 hour.

    Condoms should always be used with a new partner until you are both tested or unless you know your status – never take risks is common sense (although you won’t have much sense if you’ve drunk too much or taken drugs – there lies the problem).

    1. Samuel will tell you condoms MUST be used, no it’s no buts, and you must never go for an HIV test as a couple as this will encourage bareback sex………..imagine that, you have a strong trusting relationship yet Samuel will still insist that you can never trust your partner. Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

      Samuel & I go back 3 years on PN & his rhetoric about anything related to HIV puts a politician to shame! I know my subject area, it is based on scientific knowledge & anecdotal evidence for the largest HIV forum I the UK. Samuel has a small group of positive friends who probably only tell him what he wants to hear!

      1. I’m listening with an open non-judgmental mind. As someone who is primarily concerned with scientific and reasoned argument – as I hope everyone is – I want to see facts, not personal slights between individuals. You and Samuel leave your personal dislike or mistrust or whatever it is, outside. All voices should be listened to, but at the end of the day absolute scientific proven facts and reasoned logical arguments will win out.

        In fact, as I alluded to, I see no reason why a loving committed couple in a relationship would need to use condoms when they had both tested negative, IF they didn’t want to, because having that level of trust, and knowing the potential consequences infidelity might have, should ensure that couples remain faithful. On the other hand, condoms can actually be fun to use within a committed relationship too.

        1. I have in the past produced a great deal of scientific evidence, only to be told that the data set is not independent of the tentacles of the Pharma Co’s, they taint everything related to HIV – as an HIV positive individual I find it very distasteful that Samuel will always question even the most established HIV experts in the UK.

          Samuel wrongly believes that we are all hoodwinked by our HIV clinicians, yet my experience is a two way genuine relationship between clinician & patient. I am lucky to have the knowledge to ask the pertinent questions which ensures I get the very best care. Empowerment of others is my mantra, we all need to work together to beat HIV, which after all is just a small portion of genetic code that had the potential to cause death if not treated.

          The human genome is full of “junk” DNA code, which in earlier years was probably as deadly as HIV can be. HIV is only a big deal if you want It be in 2013 – go back 30 yrs. & it was sadly very different!

      2. The other issue could be, that a knowing HIV+ person who might have infected another person though sex could suggest PEP, but hey, thats being responsable?

        Or what are the sign of sero-coversation http://www.gmfa.org.uk/sex/hivandaids/sero-conversion or http://i-base.info/qa/284

  4. Though welcomed, UK still doesn’t allow for home testing, home sampling is. http://www.nat.org.uk/media/Files/Publications/Sep-2008-Home-Testing-for-HIV.pdf and http://www.nat.org.uk/media/Files/Policy/2012/May-2012-Testing-Action-Plan.pdf

    The issues raised from this will be that of data protection, confidentially, notification of partners……. in which errors may occur.

    It will be of interest what secuirty measures are in place with THT and the HPA to ensure the above and that the tested sample is that of it owner?

    It would also be interesting the current results and outcomes of the already established trail by GMFA/NHS which runs till March 2013, http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/11/26/london-free-home-hiv-testing-launched-for-gay-and-bisexual-men/

    1. Thanks for your contribution, Kevin.

  5. How hypercritical – for decades THT campaigned against home testing and now that they are earning thousands from this venture – it’s ok – disgusting U- turn for an organisation that has failed the nation at large on HIV transmission – and focused on saving directors salaries – while ending frontline services.

    I am ashamed to once supported them!

    1. DJ, didn’t you know, wherever THT can wring another buck out of they will be there, no matter what.

      They are an unashamedly self-serving quango and thus exist to hoover up all available funds to increase their dominance and prime property portfolio no matter what while providing the minimum of scant services in return.

      It is time gay men woke up to how they have been shafted by this deceitful stitch-up that uses the name of the first AIDS casualty to further their own selfish ends.

      1. Have you not noticed Samuel, the average gay man is not interested in HIV / Sexual Health, it is the last thing on their minds. The only story in town is Equal Marriage, & has been so for at least the past 12 months, if not longer.

        Whilst there has been a definite shift towards PN running more HIV related news, the interest level it very low, rarely does an HIV related story get more than 50 comments these days.

        Despite what you or I think about HIV the vast majority of gay men (and the greater population) have no interest or desire to get involved, they access services when they need them & the majority I come across find THT helpful & supportive.

        THT are 75% funded by short term, salami sliced contracts which can never be as effective as a continuously well funded organisation to tackle HIV head on. This is down to Government, HIV isn’t a vote winner but equal marriage just might be!

  6. Perhaps the text in the website should be altered as it still contradicts itseld saying it is available to those in the UK then further down says England .

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