HIV home testing kits legalised in the UK

Over-the-counter HIV testing kits have been legalised in the UK for the first time, so individuals can now diagnose themselves at home.

The change in law, which was passed last year but only came into effect yesterday (April 6th), was seen as a measure to reduce the number of HIV-positive individuals who remain undiagnosed.

However, partly due to European regulations and the fact that this is a new law, there are currently no such products currently on the market.

That is now expected to change, with the Terrence Higgins Trust HIV charity claiming they could become available by the end of the year, or possibly early 2015.

A spokesperson for the Department for Health said: "The stigma surrounding HIV may mean that some people are afraid or reluctant to go to a clinic to be tested.

"The change in the law will mean self-test kits are now legal to buy, making the test process more convenient and discreet."

Dr Michael Brady, medical director at the Terrence Higgins Trust, said that it was a shame the law was being introduced when there were no kits available.

The UK is one of the first countries in Europe to introduce over-the-counter testing kits, although they have been legal in the US for two years.

At the moment, home testing requires the individual to order a test online before sending it off and receiving the results over the phone - or via text message if they are negative.

Over 3,000 requested one of the kits in a single weekend, while 97 per cent of individuals that used one said they would do so again.

HIV tests generally involved taking a small drop of blood from a finger or swabbing the inside of the person's mouth.

Dr Brady stated that home testing wasn't the right choice for everyone, but it was better to give people a range of options.