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article imageHome testing kit for HIV now available in the UK

By Daniel Woods     Apr 28, 2015 in Health
Campaigners and clinicians hope the advent of HIV self test kits in the UK will help reduce transmission and increase the success of modern treatments.
The first legally approved HIV self testing kit has gone on sale in the United Kingdom. The Biosure kit which is only available online gives a result within 15 minutes although positive tests must be followed up and confirmed by professional hospital examinations.
The test works by detecting the production of HIV antibodies, the immune system’s response when infected. A drop sample of blood is taken via a pin prick on the finger, in much the same way diabetics can check their glucose readings with a glucometer.
It has a 99.7 percent accuracy rate which means the HIV self test is more accurate and reliable than a home pregnancy kit. However it can take up to three months for HIV antibodies to develop so the test only works after that initial period of infection.
HIV self test kits have been available in the US since 2012, but were only legalised last year in the UK following a concerted campaign by the Terrence Higgins Trust. It is estimated that 26,000 people in the UK are infected with HIV without knowing – both clinicians and charities hope the kits will encourage early diagnosis.
Over 40 percent of people infected with HIV are diagnosed late, and those diagnosed late are 11 times more likely to die in the first year after diagnosis. Early identification of the virus can greatly improve a patient's long term prognosis and also reduce the possibility of transmission.
Dr Rosemary Gillespie, Chief Executive at the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: We campaigned for a long time to secure the legalisation of HIV self-test kits which happened in April 2014, so it is great to see the first self–test kits being approved. 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.
The kit was awarded the European CE mark after passing extensive tests, identifying 999 of 1000 negative samples and 997 of 1000 positive samples. It can be purchased for £29.95 through BioSURE’s website and the NHS online initiative Freedoms Shop .
More about Sexual health, HIV, United Kingdom, Terrence higgins trust, Medical care
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