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Will At-Home HIV Testing Kits Reduce Rates in the United Kingdom?

Will At-Home HIV Testing Kits Reduce Rates in the United Kingdom

One study is trying to determine whether at-home testing kits will encourage people to know their status. 

There are approximately 101,200 people living with HIV in the United Kingdom, according to a report by Public Health England. Of that number, 69 percent were men and 31 percent were women, while 40 percent of all cases were living in the London area. 

As an effort to suppress the climbing rates, a study called SELPHI, from UCL, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (in partnership with PHE), is trying to discover whether or not at-home HIV testing kits might be a solution. 

SELPHI, which stands for “an HIV self-testing public health intervention,” is an internet-based study where people are asked detailed questions about their lives through an online survey. Researchers are seeking to figure out if offering free self-testing can help people get diagnosed with HIV more quickly. 

While HIV tests are free at clinics, “sometimes it is difficult to find time to visit a clinic or GP,” researchers write on the study’s website. “In this study, we are looking at the option of HIV self-testing - testing that you do yourself. We will compare getting a free HIV self-test to not getting a test. We want to see if providing free HIV self-tests increases early diagnosis of HIV.”

Professor Sheena McCormack from the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL is co-leading the study. "The number of new HIV diagnoses in gay and bisexual men is still depressingly high in the UK,” McCormack said to Medical Xpress. “Over half of men who have sex with men test less frequently than recommended and around a quarter have not done so at all. It is currently thought that around 13% of those of with HIV are unaware of their status."

McCormack continued: "We are aware that many men may not get tested as they do not have the time to visit a clinic, feel embarrassed about visiting one or speaking to a doctor. Therefore self-testing kits could make them more likely to find out their status, giving them the opportunity to seek treatment for HIV earlier than they otherwise would have done."

To find out how you can take part in the study, visit Selphi.org.

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David Artavia

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Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.