With National HIV Testing Week starting today (Monday 6 February), people in England are being urged to make use of free at-home HIV test kits.
The kits are being offered as part of a government drive to improve diagnosis of HIV, which dropped off during the pandemic.
The kit is small enough to fit through a letterbox and gives a result within 15 minutes by testing a drop of blood from a finger prick. A “reactive” result means HIV is possible and a clinic check is needed.
However, as the National Institute of Mental Health has pointed out, a positive HIV diagnosis can bring with it a higher chance of developing mood, anxiety or cognitive disorders.
Someone who has done a test at home and is worried about the result may need support and guidance, and access to an occupational health team via their workplace can be a good first port of call.
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It is estimated that some 4,400 people in England are living with undiagnosed HIV, which comes with serious health risks.
Dr Alison Brown, interim head of HIV surveillance at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “HIV does not discriminate, no matter your gender or sexual orientation.
“Taking up a free and confidential HIV test regularly when having condom-less sex will ensure you’re diagnosed early and started on effective treatment, helping to reduce transmission of HIV and the number of people with undiagnosed HIV.”
The government has set an ambition of ending new HIV cases by 2030.