The first HIV self-testing kit that is legally approved in the UK to give immediate results to users became available to buy online on 27 April 2015.
The £29.95 kit, marketed by Bio Sure UK, relies on a finger prick blood sample and a test to determine whether HIV antibodies are present. Two purple lines in the test tube confirm a positive result, which the company claims is 99.7% accurate if the test has been performed three months after exposure to HIV.
People who receive a positive result are advised by the company to make an appointment with a healthcare professional for a second test to confirm the diagnosis.
“An anonymous test like this is going to help those who would not come forward for a test,” says Heather Leake Date, consultant pharmacist for HIV at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust. “But it’s difficult to say how popular the kits will be as the people it is attracting are those that [NHS services and others] are missing.”
Leake Date believes the kits will appeal to people who do not think they have been at risk from HIV but who want to put their minds at rest and others who may have put themselves at risk but who do not want to attend mainstream services.
The kit has come onto the UK market a year after the law was changed to allow its sale and reflects the government’s desire for more at-risk groups to be tested for HIV.