Londoners order 100,000 free HIV and STI home testing kits since January
Over 100,000 HIV and STI home testing kits have been ordered by Londoners since January, through a new online service run by councils and the NHS.
The introduction of the free Sexual Health London (SHL) service is part of a number of changes to sexual health services, which have seen the commissioning of contraception, STI testing and treatment services brought together so that they are available under one roof in most sexual health clinics across the capital.
SHL is aimed at people without symptoms who want to manage their sexual health online without having to take time off work for a simple test.* Over 3,000 chlamydia and 1,000 gonorrhoea infections have been identified since the launch in January, with 260 people also initially testing positive on screening tests for HIV.
The easy-to-use home testing kits, which test for HIV, hepatitis and a range of bacterial STIs, make it more convenient for people to access testing and manage their sexual health whenever it suits them.
SHL is also becoming one of the most popular ways for Londoners to check their HIV status. 98% of people who have used the service say they would recommend it to their friends or family.**
The changes to sexual health services are aimed at improving access to sexual health services in London at a time when government funding for public health is being cut. The increase in online home testing enables sexual health clinics to spend more time seeing people who have symptoms of an STI or more complex needs.
People can order the kits for free at shl.uk, or through local clinics. They are delivered in discreet packaging in about two working days. Kits are then sent back free of charge to Sexual Health London’s testing lab. People receive their results typically within two working days.
If there is any need for follow-up care, the service gets in touch to support people to access clinic appointments. Treatment for certain types of chlamydia can also be sent through the post, free of charge for use at home, without any need to visit a clinic.
Dr Sara Day, Consultant at Sexual Health London, said: “As we mark World Aids Day, we’re really proud to be at the forefront of free, confidential online HIV and sexual health testing with our Sexual Health London service.
“I’ve spoken to lots of people who’ve used the service, which has been hugely popular so far. People really value the convenience of a 24/7 service, find the kits straight-forward to use and appreciate the tailored follow-up advice they get from us if they need it.
“If someone has a positive test for HIV, we get in touch with them to provide their result, offer support and provide a fast track referral into their local sexual health clinic for confirmatory testing and engagement with HIV services.
“Sexual Health London makes it easier than ever for people in London to manage their sexual health whenever it suits them. By working closely with London’s sexual health clinics, we want to play our part in ending all new HIV transmissions.”
For free, easy-to-use STI home testing, visit shl.uk.
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