The first legally approved HIV self-testing kit is now for sale in the UK which is fantastic news for anyone who’s ever had a bad experience getting a test in the past.
‘No questions. No labs. No waiting’ the BioSure HIV Self Test advertises on its cover.
I would have added ‘No judgement’.
I remember going to my local GP in Richmond, London about 15 years ago and asking to be tested because a condom had broken during sex.
I wasn’t high risk but I am diligent and sensible about sexual health, so dutifully trotted along to ask to be tested.
The receptionist recoiled in horror when I asked for an appointment.
“We don’t do that sort of thing here,” she said. Literally taking a step back to maintain a safe distance between us.
“Really? How irresponsible,” I replied and made a complaint to the clinic manager (which fell on deaf ears).
Yes, that was a long time ago but seriously! I’m a straight woman who is confident and comfortable talking about sex.
What if you weren’t yet comfortable being gay or bi-sexual? What if you were a shy person? Or embarrassed talking about sex? Or scared of being judged?
Is it any wonder people avoided being tested back then!
Things are better now but if you are shy and don’t want to answer intimate questions about your sex life to a stranger, getting an HIV test is still a stressful experience.
Brilliant news, then, that you can now DIY the test at home and get a reliable result.
Anyone who is sexually active and has had unprotected sex at some point in their lives should take a test, in my opinion.
There are an estimated 26,000 people in the UK who have HIV but are unaware of it.
HIV is now completely manageable – if caught early, it’s totally treatable and the person can have a normal life expectancy.
But early diagnosis is key: discover it too late and it’s not such good news.
The BioSure HIV Self Test was the first to be approved in the UK and has a 99.7 per cent accuracy rate.
It uses a finger pin-prick blood sample to detect the presence of HIV antibodies and offers a result in 15 minutes.
Because you’re doing it in your own home, the results, naturally, are yours alone and remain completely confidential.
The founder of BioSure is a woman, Brigette Bard, who sees the launch of the product as a step towards normalising HIV testing.
Prince Harry and Elton John both spoke out about the important of self-testing for HIV at the International AIDS Conference this year.
One test costs £29.95 and you can buy them in packs if you want to test regularly (every three months is recommended if you’re having unprotected sex).
I urge everyone to take a test if you haven’t already.
Though I do want to make these points clear:
Don’t use a home test HIV kit unless it has a CE mark.
Don’t use it if it looks damaged or the seal has been broken.
If you’re not sure how you’d cope it the result is positive, don’t do it solo. Make sure you have a friend with you or call one of the many HIV support groups in the UK beforehand.
If you google, you’ll find lots of help out there like positivelyuk.org. They hold regular workshops to help you cope with the diagnosis result.