From Sunday 6th April 2014 HIV self-testing is now legal in the UK, allowing people to test themselves for HIV at home – but at this time no kits are available for sale.
In August 2013 the law was changed to permit, from April 2014, the sale of HIV self-testing (or home testing) kits. However no kits are currently available for purchase in the UK.
This is because the tests currently on sale in the USA do not meet stringent European regulations. The existing kits produce too many false-positive and, more worryingly, false-negative results to be sold here. Manufacturers are working on kits with improved sensitivity and accuracy that they hope to be available towards the end of 2014, or beginning of 2015.
Michael Brady, Medical Director at Terrence Higgins Trust, said:
“We welcome this change in the law, which will give people another choice about how and where they test for HIV. The success of our HIV postal testing scheme has shown that many people who have never tested before, or who have been putting off a visit to the clinic, are willing to test at home. With HIV transmission in the UK largely driven by the 22,000 people who remain undiagnosed, anything that provides them with another option to test and access effective treatment is welcome.”
“It is vital that HIV self-testing kits offer high quality information, including how to obtain practical and emotional support and how to quickly access specialist HIV services. We will be working closely with manufacturers to ensure that any kit that comes to market meets the very best standards of patient information.”
beyondpositive supports increased testing, and believes that we should use every arrow in our quiver. But as people who’ve been diagnosed positive ourselves we know what a major life event that is, and we could only support and recommend home-testing if there were a 24/7 free-phone support line in place for those testing.