HIV self-testing kits go on sale in Britain

27 April 2015
An HIV ribbon

Britain’s first legally approved HIV self-test kits are on sale as of today in England, Scotland and Wales. The HIV self-kit allows people to do an HIV test in the safe environment of their home without the need to fill out paperwork or the intervention of a clinic.

The UK lifted its legal ban on HIV home testing in April 2014, but manufacturers were not able to market a test with a CE mark - indicating that the test conforms to minimum European standards for accuracy and ease of use - until today.

The HIV self-test kit detects antibodies in a small drop of blood, taken from the finger. The blood is applied to the tip of the test device, after which the test takes 15 minutes to show the result, in the same way as a pregnancy test.

Antibodies against HIV are often only detectable three months after being exposed to the virus. This can lead people to believe that they are not infected as the test appears to be negative. However, a negative test during the 3-month window period follow exposure to the virus does not automatically mean that people are definitely free of the virus.

The benefit of the HIV self-test is early diagnosis of HIV, which will allow people to get treatment sooner and prevent serious complications. With a home-based test available people can test in a safe home environment, although it is important to make sure people can get quick access to information and support before and after taking the test.

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