The ban on home HIV testing kits in the UK has been lifted.

Until now it was illegal in the UK to do an HIV test at home and read the result yourself – people could take a sample themselves, send it off……..more

James Copeland, Sexual Health Development Officer for The Rainbow Project, welcomed the legislation but added:

“whilst we encourage people to be aware of their HIV status and to test more, home HIV testing carries too many risks for us to currently support it. The fact is that HIV does disproportionately affect men who have sex with men. However an important point of any sexual health screen is health promotion and support should the test come back reactive or positive.

Home testing does not offer community or clinical based testers the ability to explain to clients why they may be at risk of HIV infection and does not allow them to challenge the often incorrect and stigmatised views around HIV. Additionally, unlike in a community or clinical based environment where there is strict governance and training procedures in place, a client may accidentally carry out the test incorrectly, not follow the proper instructions or cross contaminate the specimen.

Though home HIV testing offers more ways to test, it may allow those who are not aware of or not willing to be challenged on risky sexual behaviours to test without having the correct, up to date information and support needed to make informed decisions about their future sexual health.

It is also our view that home testing is an inappropriate service to be provided by private business for profit and that strong, effective and properly structured and governed community, voluntary and health and social care trust based services are still the best way forward. HIV is classed as a disease under the infectious diseases act and is therefore covered under the NHS. Whilst we understand that current capacity issues at GUM services pose a real difficulty for some clients,  a charge of up to £50 for a home HIV test is not the solution”

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