Over 35 million people are affected by HIV each year, according to the World Health Organization. Of those 35 million, almost 19 million are not aware they have the disease.
The UK has now approved an HIV Home Test Kit from Biosure. The makers claim this test is 99.7% accurate and results appear in 15 minutes. This test is the only one approved for sale in the UK.
Unlike other kits, Biosure doesn't need to be sent out to labs to obtain results.
The test works by detecting whether antibodies (the body's response to the disease) are present in a few drops of blood. It works in a similar way to a pregnancy test, measuring levels of antibodies - proteins made in response to the virus - in a person's blood. The device analyses a small droplet of blood, taken from the finger-tip using a lancet. Two purple lines appear if it is positive.
Diagnosing HIV Quicker
A key issue with HIV is that it often goes undiagnosed. In the UK alone, over 26,000 people are unaware they have HIV each year. The disposable HIV test is priced at 29.95 (in pounds). The company also sells a subscription service, delivering one test every three months, to people who desire regular testing.
Many experts are recommending that if a person sees a positive result from this home test, they should seek a second diagnosis at the nearest clinic right away. They also warn that while a negative result probably means you do not have HIV, users should be aware that it can take up to 3 months after infection for the home testing kit to be able to confirm a result. Sometimes there is a delay in the detectable presence of antibodies.
Of course, free HIV testing is available in the UK through many community services in the UK, however this may improve prevention and knowledge around this disease as a self-testing kit feels more private and much quicker.