A self-testing kit for HIV was requested by 4750 people during a two-week pilot scheme launched by the Terrence Higgins Trust.
The test was created to allow people to test their status in private, with results in just 15 minutes. Of those who took part, roughly half informed the Trust of their result, with 26 reporting a positive status. Additionally, one in five were taking an HIV test for the first time, while 44% had had a test in the past year, and 38% had a test over a year ago.
‘We know that one in six people living with HIV do not know that they have it,’ said Dr Michael Brady, medical director for the Terrence Higgins Trust. ‘Testing puts you in control and, thanks to treatment, will stop you from getting seriously ill, enable you to live a normal lifespan and prevent you from passing the virus on to anyone else.’
The pilot launched at the end of June to coincide with LGBT Pride and Black Pride in London, particularly targeting men who have sex with men and black African people in the UK. The test was available to people aged between 16 and 80, with the average age being 31. It was promoted through social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Grindr.
‘It was particularly interesting that the pilot showed a significant uptake from people in such geographically widespread areas, including rural areas where residents might not have easy access to HIV testing in clinical or community settings, and who otherwise may not have found out their HIV status,’ added Dr Brady.
In what has been declared a ‘ground breaking moment in the fight against HIV’, Prince Harry took part in the scheme, livestreaming himself taking a test, in an effort to ‘normalise’ testing. The Terrence Higgins Trust have said that there was a five-fold spike in requests for the tests after this.