Charities launch HIV home test during "unique opportunity to get to zero"
Two leading Scottish charities have launched a national HIV home testing service in Scotland, in what they say is a unique opportunity to break the chain of transmission and get to zero new HIV transmissions.
HIV Scotland and Waverley Care have partnered to provide people in Scotland with a free HIV testing service at a time when access to sexual health services is reduced to emergency and symptomatic testing only.
Experts have talked about the opportunity that physical distancing offers to break the chain of transmission by ensuring people have access to a HIV diagnosis – and swift access to effective treatments that can manage the virus so that people can have an undetectable viral load that makes them unable to transmit the virus to their sexual partners.
They say that diagnosing people who have HIV but don’t know it will help to break the chain of transmission in their joint ambition for Scotland to reach zero new HIV transmissions by 2030.
Commenting, Nathan Sparling, Chief Executive of HIV Scotland said:
“HIV Self Test Scotland is a brand new service with the aim of getting HIV tests in to the hands of people who need it, when and where it is convenient for them.
“Diagnosing HIV is the most important part of our mission to reach zero new HIV transmissions, so it’s important that we’re launching this service for people to access a test when the advice is to stay at home.
“For most people. self-testing is fast, safe, accurate and convenient – and it provides people with another option that can help people get swift access to treatment if needed. It’s important for everyone to know their HIV status so they can protect their health, and that of their partners too.
“With HIV Self Test Scotland, we can play our part in the global mission to get to zero by 2030.”
Grant Sugden, Chief Executive of Waverley Care said:
“There are still around 500 people living with HIV in Scotland that don’t know they have it. Diagnosing people living with HIV is the first part in preventing new transmissions, as people can access effective treatment which supresses the virus to levels which can’t be transmitted through sex.
“HIV Self Test Scotland is a great new project, as part of a new partnership that provides many people in Scotland with a new option for testing. Regardless of someone’s HIV status, they’ll also be able to access dedicated support that will help them access treatment, or stay negative.
“However, while this service makes HIV testing available to many people in Scotland, we must not forget that people who use drugs are less likely to access services online and still need specialist support from our teams. This is particularly important in areas such as Glasgow, where people affected by Glasgow’s HIV outbreak continue to be at heightened risk of HIV during COVID-19. That’s why our HIV Street Support team are carrying out testing in Glasgow city centre, making sure we’re taking a multi-level approach to HIV testing in Scotland.
“Anyone can get one of the HIV self-tests for free, regardless of why they might want to test – so this service can really play an important part in helping to diagnose everyone who might have been at risk of HIV.”