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UK: Sexual health charities welcome legalisation of HIV self-testing kits

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  1. GulliverUK 12 Aug 2013, 4:16pm

    Great news. But …

    How much will the kits cost? if they are expensive you can probably forget it.

    Will the results have to go off to a lab, or will they show immediately.

    If the results show immediately them we don’t need a 12-month from last sexual encounter law on the blood donations do we.

    How long before last sexual contact do you need to leave before taking the test?

    Is it a test for anti-bodies or for the actual HIV virus, if so, which strain, is it accurate for the majority of strains?

    What advice will be included so that people understand that HIV is not a death sentence but a manageable condition – because in the early days it was mostly fatal and people could become suicidal.

    Lots of questions that need to be answered.

    1. The approved home testing kits will provide a result on the spot & do not have to be sent to a lab. Whilst OraSure are the leading provider for home test kits in the States I am not yet aware of the particular test that will be licensed here in the UK.

      The kits that are licensed will look for antibodies only, so there will be a window period of somewhere in the region of 12 wks post possible exposure to HIV. Again depending on the authorised kit it may be able to detect both HIV1 & HIV2 antibodies.

      The test result should confirm a “reactive test” rather than confirm an HIV positive diagnosis – this can only be confirmed by attending a sexual health clinic for confirmatory tests to establish a positive diagnosis.

      The OraSure tests on sale in the US provide good quality instructions for use & information on support organisations – I am sure that this will be the case here in the UK so that anyone using the test can get advice.

      1. GulliverUK 12 Aug 2013, 5:21pm

        Thanks for that, I thought somebody would know much more about these kits. Hopefully it will help provide the possibility for those with HIV who haven’t taken a test to do so, but I imagine there are two camps, a) those who don’t know their status and don’t want to know, and b) those who don’t think they are positive and might not see any need to test. I hope there is a c) those who aren’t sure and want to know, and that the privacy of a home test will enable this.

        I can see it will help those in more rural areas – where everybody knows your business, but in London, for example, you can go to the John Hunter clinic, or elsewhere, and get an initial results in no time, and they have been non-judgmental for 20 years. There really is no reason not to get tested, unless you don’t really want to know for sure.

        1. There are a range of individuals who may benefit form being able to take a test at home, ranging from those who are not able to negotiate / control condom use as a result of cultural beliefs, those who have to endure abuse within a relationship together with those who still believe that just taking an HIV test has an effect on the ability to get life insurance or a mortgage. For some home testing will just be more convenient as despite improvements to the availability of HIV community testing, many hard to reach individuals will prefer to use a test at home.

          There is no suggestion that home testing will become the default position, but an added choice for those who wish to purchase such a test from their pharmacy. I am not aware that HIV service providers will be offering the home testing kits free of charge, but this remains to be seen I guess. There will need to be a good quality education campaign to ensure those using home tests understand the limitations & where to get advice.

  2. Hyercritical – money grabbing exercise – For years THT were opposed to home testing kits – now they get a percentage of each test – it’s support all the way – Disgraceful –

    Wait for it THT’s pet whinger W6 will be straight on this one…

  3. ChrisMorley 13 Aug 2013, 1:12pm

    Allowing self-testing kits brings with it a new and different set of problems which will need to be sorted out.
    Studies of home sampling here and abroad show there are some significant problems and also that significant numbers gay and bi men have concerns about using home testing.

    I suggest reading these two thought-provoking articles before jumping up and down with joy.

    1. ChrisMorley 13 Aug 2013, 1:17pm

      Don’t miss Roy Kilpatrick’s very sensible comments on the second article:

      1. Absolutely right, why are we rushing into home testing? isnt Home sampling better? It provides a direct link to care which just isnt there with home testing. Without support this could really just increase the suicide rate! No-one would advocate any other home test for a life threatening condition so why HIV? This is a money driven decision and has nothing to do with care or increased diagnosis rates. More thought and definitely consultation before anything like this gets off the ground. More appropriate community based testing initiatives and home sampling would be more suitable, not there is your result now get on with it…

        1. Part of the problem is that there are individuals who are already purchasing home testing kits on the net. Many of these kits are not of good quality, accurate & they do not provide contact details where an individuals can get support should the test indicate a reactive result.

          Having an authorised product available in the UK will hopefully improve safety, reliability & crucially contain support agency information available in the test kit sold in the UK.

          Some community outreach testing programs do not always provide direct access to care, particularly where point of care tests are completed by trained non medical personnel & volunteers.

          I think we should focus on the safety & accuracy aspects that come with having an authorised test kit available here in the UK.

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