Dr Steve Taylor, Medical Director of Saving Lives, has written on Huffington Post about the ongoing debates around home testing for HIV:
In the course of my medical life, I’ve overheard many people ask their friends the question, “Have you had an HIV test?”
“No,” comes the common reply. “I know I should, but I don’t want it on my medical records. It affects your insurance premiums, doesn’t it? And you can only have one if you go to a “special clinic”. You have to have counselling that lasts ages, too – they ask you about the details of your sex life! Besides, I’m not gay and I don’t take drugs, so I’m not at risk..”
I hear all of these excuses over and over again every day at work. What’s most frustrating is that many of these preconceptions were formed 10, 15, 20 years ago, when having an HIV test was essentially about receiving a profoundly life-limiting diagnosis. At that time, pre-test counselling was vital, as we had no treatment to offer. Fast forward twenty years and things have changed dramatically. (And for the record, I want to make one thing absolutely clear: your mortgage and insurance are not affected by simply taking the test!)
He goes on to suggest that home testing kits, properly regulated, could help us diagnose the undiagnosed and reduce the number of people in the UK who do not know they are HIV-positive – currently estimated to be around 25,000 people. Saving Lives is in favour of revoking the ban on home testing, and helping people access reliable tests which clearly signpost access to NHS support services.