UK’s first HIV test vending machine unveiled at gay sauna
The UK’s first vending machine for HIV tests has been unveiled at a gay sauna in Brighton.
The first-of-its-kind touchscreen machine was introduced to help men access convenient, confidential and discreet HIV testing at The Brighton Sauna.
The machine, launched for Brighton Pride, distributes free HIV self-testing kits, which allow people to undergo a self-administered HIV fingerprick test and get a result in just a matter of minutes.
The service will be available 24 hours a day and is completely free of charge.
In addition to the installation of the machine, Sauna staff have been comprehensively trained to offer appropriate support and advice.
The project was part of a unique collaboration by the Martin Fisher Foundation, BioSure, designers, clinicians and researchers, aiming to explore new methods for HIV testing.
Dr Gillian Dean, Consultant in GUM/HIV at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, said: “This is a great example of true partnership working, combined with innovative technology.
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Brigette Bard, CEO of BioSure, said the machine would “provide convenience and discretion and of course, innovation”.
She added: “Treatments for HIV are so amazing now that people should not be wary of knowing their status, only not knowing – it is testing that is vital, however people choose to do that.
“We are thrilled to be part of the solution to ending HIV by 2030 and delivering the first AIDS free generation.”
Funding was awarded to MFF by Public Health England’s (PHE) HIV Prevention Innovation Fund 2016-2017, which was targeted at finding solutions to target high-risk and hard-to-reach groups.
Hopes are high that the machine will be successful, with a rollout planned to other locations across the UK.
The Elton John AIDS Foundation has committed funding for a further 10 machines.
Free HIV-preventing drugs will be offered to gay men on the NHS from next month.