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HIV self-testing kits available on the high street

Superdrug has announced plans to start selling the BioSURE HIV Self Test for £33.99.

HIV self-testing kits are to be available to buy on the high street for the first time, a retailer has announced.

Superdrug said it has become the first high street retailer to offer an HIV self-testing kit across its 200 Pharmacy stores for £33.99.

The BioSURE HIV Self Test was previously available to buy online.

The kit became the first legally approved self testing kit in 2015, with a 99.7% accuracy rate.

It uses a small amount of blood from a finger prick sample to detect the presence of HIV antibodies and offers a result in just 15 minutes.

Superdrug said that making the kit more widely available will help reduce a person’s waiting time between taking the test and their result.

It could also help increase early diagnosis rates, it added.

Due to developments in treatments available, HIV can now be a manageable disease but late diagnosis can have a devastating impact on health and life expectancy.

Dr Pixie McKenna, a GP and Superdrug’s health expert, said: “Superdrug’s move to encourage and empower patients to self-test for HIV is one further step forward in our fight against this disease.

“While there is no cure, early diagnosis is key in terms of management.

“Patients successfully managed on HIV treatments have normal life expectancy, but to know you need treatment you need to know your diagnosis.”

Michael Henry, healthcare director at Superdrug, added: “We are delighted to be the first high street retailer to add BioSURE HIV Self Test to our in-store portfolio and to give our customers more accessibility when it comes to self-testing – it’s absolutely crucial that people know their status.

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It is estimated that more than 10,000 people in the UK may be living with HIV without knowing it (Superdrug/PA)

“We do understand this can be a difficult time, our nursing and pharmacist staff are always on hand to discuss any questions or concerns consumers may have around HIV.”

In May the Terrence Higgins Trust launched a programme to enable high-risk groups – men who have sex with men, trans women and black African people – to order free HIV self-testing kits.

The six-month project, supported by Public Health England’s Innovation Fund, means at-risk groups can log on to the charity’s website, enter their details and choose any delivery address or opt to click and collect to receive a self-test kit.

The charity has estimated that there are 10,400 people in the UK who do not know that they are living with HIV.

This means they are not on effective medication and could unknowingly be passing the virus on.

HIV is a virus which attacks the immune system and weakens the body’s ability to fight diseases.

Marc Thompson, health improvement lead at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Around one in eight people living with HIV in the UK remain undiagnosed, which is why we strongly welcome anything that increases access to and awareness of HIV testing.

“It’s great to see a big high street brand like Superdrug recognising the need for providing self-tests kits from BioSure, where you can test at home and get a result within just 15 minutes.

“But not everyone can afford to buy a kit, and it’s important to make clear that you can test for free at any sexual health clinic. We’re also offering free self-tests kits for communities most affected by HIV in the UK.”

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