'Support is vital' if new self-test HIV kits give positive result
RCN's public health forum chair welcomes first legally approved self-test HIV kit launched in the UK, but offers note of caution
The launch of a self-test HIV kit is welcome, but people need access to support after their result, says RCN public health forum chair Jason Warriner.
The first legally approved self-testing kit is on sale from today in the UK.
The product, by BioSure (UK), allows people who are concerned about possible exposure to HIV to perform a simple test on themselves.
Mr Warriner, a HIV nurse specialist, said: 'Some people may test themselves because they think the result may be positive and will have prepared themselves a bit.
'But they need support when they get the result and they need to know where to go.'
Users take a drop of blood from their finger and apply it to a single-use, disposable testing device which gives a positive or negative result within 15 minutes.
The manufacturers say that the kit is 99.7% accurate from three months after suspected exposure, but added that anyone who gets a positive result should have a confirmation test with a healthcare professional. However, it may not detect HIV infections that have happened in the past three months.
Terrence Higgins Trust chief executive Rosemary Gillespie said that the charity, the largest voluntary sector provider of HIV and sexual health services in the UK, campaigned for a long time for the legalisation of HIV self-test kits. She said it was 'great to see the first self-test kits being approved'.
Dr Gillespie added: ‘We know that if people are diagnosed with HIV and start treatment early then they can avoid serious complications and lead long and healthy lives.
‘Unfortunately 24% of people living with HIV in the UK remain undiagnosed so we have to do much more to encourage people to test.’