Video tutorial: How to use a HIV self-testing kit
Terrence Higgins Trust is launching a new programme to make HIV self-testing kits free to all gay and bisexual men, as well as trans women.
The self-testing kits give a result in under 15 minutes, using just a small blood sample from a finger prick.
The kits are also available to anyone in the UK who identifies as Black African.
We tried out the HIV self-testing kit live on Facebook with Terrence Higgins Trust’s Liam Beattie at PinkNews’ London office.
Beattie told PinkNews: “If the result does come back as positive, I appreciate that for a lot of people that is a massive change in their lives, but do go to a clinic.
“It’s not something to be panicking about, we have much better treatment options available now.
“People who are living with HIV – some studies have suggested – will actually have a longer life span because they’re interacting more regularly with health services.
“Within the LGBT community, we see on dating apps people use really unhelpful terminologies.
“We need to educate ourselves and know about the reality of the virus.
“It’s really easy to get tested and even if the result comes back negative, that shouldn’t be the end – you should be accessing testing regularly.
“Only that way can we get to zero infections, which would be absolutely fantastic.”
People who order one of the kits will have access to support from THT Direct, the charity’s information and advice line, who are there to provide information and support whatever the result.
The aim of the programme is to gauge the effectiveness of self-testing as a method to reduce barriers to HIV testing among groups most at risk of contracting HIV.
The development and launch of the service has been made possible, for up to a period of six months, by a legacy left by the late actor Alec McCowen CBE.
However, the charity is seeking charitable donations from supporters with the aim of being able to extend it for longer.
Ian Green, CEO of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “One of our strategic aims as a charity is to end HIV transmission in the UK, and increasing testing among at risk communities is an effective way to achieve this.
“We know that different methods of testing suit different people, and so we’re thrilled to launch this programme for those who prefer to use self testing kits at home but who perhaps can’t afford it.
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“The programme, which is currently funded for up to six months, will enable more people from at risk communities to know their status and access early, effective treatment if required.
“This will ensure that less people are living undiagnosed with HIV, and that they can live long, healthy lives, with no risk of passing the virus on to future partners.”
Currently, 10,400 people in the UK do not know they are are living with HIV.
The programme is the largest of its kind and is currently funded to run for six months.