One in 4 people living with HIV is currently unaware of their infection in England, contributing to ongoing transmission in the population and poorer health outcomes for those individuals. As part of an ongoing commitment from Public Health England (PHE) to tackle this issue, a new ‘HIV testing & self-testing: answers to frequently asked questions’ publication has been released today (2 April 2014). The resource provides information on why, when and how to get tested, to help individuals make these important decisions.
Dr Anthony Nardone, consultant epidemiologist in PHE’s HIV/STI department, said:
People who are unaware of their infection are likely to be those most at risk of transmitting HIV to others. By encouraging earlier and more frequent HIV testing, we can accelerate a reduction in the number of people with undiagnosed HIV infection in the UK. We hope this new resource will help people decide to test for HIV in the way that best suits them.
In August 2013, the Department of Health announced plans to repeal the UK ban on the sale of HIV self-testing kits, which will come into force this weekend (6 April 2014). Although at the moment no self-testing kits have been approved for UK sale, ‘HIV testing & self-testing: answers to frequently asked questions’ provides information on HIV self-testing in preparation for when these do become available.
Professor Jane Anderson, PHE lead for HIV, Sexual and Reproductive Health, adds:
The additional option of HIV self-testing is another step forward in tackling the HIV epidemic. To make sure this is done safely it is crucial that everyone whose self-test indicates they may have HIV gets their test confirmed by a healthcare professional. People who are HIV positive must have prompt access to appropriate advice, care and treatment.
Read HIV testing and self-testing: answers to frequently asked questions