Self-tests for HIV will now be available to buy on the British high street for the first time.
BioSURE tests, which were previously only available to buy online, will now be stocked in 200 Superdrug pharmacies.
The tests have have a 99.7% accuracy rate and cost £33.99 per kit, using a small prick of blood to detect the presence of HIV anti-bodies. They provide a result within 15 minutes and allow users to take the test in the comfort of their own home.
‘Around one in eight people living with HIV in the UK remain undiagnosed, which is why we strongly welcome anything that increases access to and awareness of HIV testing,’ said Marc Thompson, health improvement lead at the Terrence Higgins Trust, which campaigns on HIV and sexual health. ‘But not everyone can afford to buy a kit, and it’s important to make clear that you can test for free at any sexual health clinic.’
The charity offers free self-testing kits, as they are aware that many people will be unable to afford them in more deprived areas of the UK which are most affected by HIV.
HIV is a viral infection which attacks the immune system and while it is incurable, many people can live long and healthy lives with HIV. However, without a diagnosis this is not the case – and the Terrence Higgins Trust estimates that there are 10 400 people in the UK living with undiagnosed HIV.
Free tests are available but the falling number of sexual health clinics across the UK have resulted in limited access to services.
Cuts to public health funding and a shortage of nurses have left patients being turned away at the door – meanwhile, rates of common sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, with around 128 000 new cases of chlamydia every year.
Superdrug said that the kits could reduce waiting times and increase early diagnosis rates