New research from THT suggests widespread demand for HIV home testing
Almost two-thirds of people would consider using HIV home testing kits if they were legally available and regulated in the UK, according to new research by HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT). In a bid to reduce high levels of undiagnosed HIV, THT is urging the Government to legalise and regulate home testing as part of its new policy document HIV and Sexual Health: 12 things the Government can do.
The sale of home testing kits for HIV is currently illegal in the UK. Home testing kits can be purchased over the internet, but they are unregulated, often of very poor quality and lack important information on HIV transmission and where to get support.
To gauge public support for home testing, THT surveyed 657 people via newsletters, social media, and other online media. Of the 490 respondents that had not tested HIV-positive, 63% said they would consider using HIV testing kits if they were legalised and 51% thought legalisation would make them test more often. Among gay men, one of the groups most at risk of HIV in the UK, 60% thought legalisation would make them test more often.
Lisa Power, Policy Director for THT, said: “Reducing undiagnosed HIV is a major challenge. A quarter of those with HIV in the UK remain undiagnosed, and so are more likely to pass the virus on. One way to bring this number down is by increasing the opportunities for people to test outside of traditional settings.
“This research shows a clear bedrock of support for the legalisation of HIV home testing kits, particularly among gay men. We know some people will always be reluctant to visit traditional clinics; this legislation would give them the option to test for HIV in their own home. We urge the Government to repeal the ban and ensure HIV home testing kits are properly regulated in the UK.”
THT’s policy document HIV and Sexual Health: 12 things the Government can do will be launched at this year’s Conservative Party Conference. The document, which includes a section on home testing, is available to download from www.tht.org.uk/12things.
- 63% of people who last tested negative for HIV or had never tested would consider using HIV home testing kits if they were legally available and regulated in the UK. 51% think it would make them test for HIV more often.
- 65% of gay men would consider using a home testing kit. 60% think they would test more often if home testing kits were legally available.
- 35% of respondents with HIV thought they may have been diagnosed earlier if home testing kits were available. This rose to 44% among those who were diagnosed late, at a point when they should have already started on treatment.
- 65% of all respondents want home testing kits to be legalised and regulated in the UK. Support was highest among HIV negative and untested gay men, with 78% in favour of legislation.