UK’s first HIV self-testing kit allows you to get a result in 15 minutes

Nick Duffy April 24, 2015
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The first kits that allow people to quickly test themselves for HIV have gone on sale in the UK.

The kits became legal this month, after the law was changed to lift a restriction that made it illegal in the UK to do an HIV test at home and obtain the result yourself.

Previously available testing kits allowed people to collect a blood sample themselves – but the kits required the samples to be sent off for testing in a laboratory, with the results received at a later date.

A legally approved CE-marked self-testing kit has been made available this week – requiring a small drop of blood, and gives a clear result to the tester directly in just 15 minutes.

Dr Rosemary Gillespie, Chief Executive at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We campaigned for a long time to secure the legalisation of HIV self-test kits which happened in April 2014, so it is great to see the first self-test kits being approved.

“Self-testing kits are currently provided outside the NHS and will cost money. The main difference between this and other testing options is that it gives the convenience of doing an HIV test at home, with the result delivered outside a clinical setting, which we know some people prefer. However, it is important to make sure people can get quick access to support when they get their result.

Deborah Gold, of the National AIDS Trust said: “We currently have a long way to go when it comes to diagnosing people with HIV on time.

“Over 40% of people living with HIV are diagnosed late, meaning they have been living with HIV for at least four years.

“People diagnosed late are 11-times more likely to die in the first year after diagnosis. To address this public health challenge we need to look at new ways for people to test and self-testing is an important and welcome additional option.”

The kits do have limitations – with a price tag of £29.95 for initial single-use kits likely to preclude routine use for hook-ups, for instance.

Related topics: AIDS, Bisexual men, gay and bisexual men, gay men, HIV, hiv infection, hiv testing, hiv transmission, HIV-prevention, men who have sex with men, MSM, NAT, national aids trust, Public Health England, self-testing, Terrence Higgins Trust, test, THT

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