A self-test kit that detects HIV has hit the shelves in different areas of England, Scotland, and Wales. This legally approved product is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom.
Like a Pregnancy Test
The self-testing kit functions just like a regular pregnancy test, except that it requires a small amount of blood taken from the tip of a finger. The kit comes with a lancet to draw the blood. Once the sample is available, the kit analyses that antibody levels of the person.
If two purple lines appear on the test, the person may be positive for HIV. Doctors advise heading to an NHS clinic right away to confirm the results of the test.
Experts also clarify that not because the result is negative does it mean the person is completely HIV-free. The virus takes around three months to trigger the development of antibodies in a person’s system. The kit is not reliable when taken within this three-month period.
Diagnostic testing solutions company Biosure manufactures the said test. As of posting, the product is only available through orders on Biosure’s website.
The UK government approved the sale of this product in September 2013. The draft that modernized the country’s rules on HIV detection was drafted on August 15, 2013. Revisions on the law came into effect in April 2014 – at the time, no kits were available for sale yet.
The said change in the policy approved two key provisions: the sale of self-testing kits and the reversal of the ban on healthcare workers who have HIV in participating in certain medical procedures. The sale of all self-testing kits is subject to a specific set of regulations by the government.
Charities and other organizations have received the product well. From the perspective of these groups, the availability of self-testing kits would encourage those who are too anxious to have their status checked for the first time.
It is also a successful moment after charities and advocates have campaigned for the sale of such a product. Terrence Higgins Trust chief executive Dr. Rosemary Gillespie told the BBC: “We campaigned for a long time to secure the legalization of HIV self-test kits which happened in April 2014, so it is great to see the first self-test kits being approved.”
But while the sale has been welcomed, there is still the challenge of the product’s accessibility to the public. Charity member Shaun Griffin said that the government has to take steps to ensure that the product is readily available for those in need. “At the moment there are funding challenged throughout the NHS, including for sexual health services,” he said.