Harrow and Barnet, first councils in England to offer home testing HIV kits in partnership with THT.
The news coincides with Do it London awareness raising campaign, which aims to encourage regular testing for HIV and promote safe sex.
The kits are for at high risk groups, which include gay men, bisexual and heterosexual men and women from Black African origins to help identify the condition early.
The kits can be ordered online from the Terrence Higgins Trust website and arrive a few days later to a chosen address in the borough. All that is required is a small sample of blood, from a finger prick. The kit is then sent off in on a pre-paid envelope for testing.
Cary James, Head of Health Improvement Programmes at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “Postal HIV tests are a great way to make it even easier to test for HIV. “National HIV Testing Week’ (starts November 21) is mere weeks away so it is great to see Harrow taking leadership in providing such an innovative service to support the sexual health of its residents.”
Councillor for public health, Varsha Parmar, added: “In Harrow we only have a small number of people who are diagnosed with HIV, but it is still important for risk groups to be checked regularly. I am delighted that Harrow is the first Council in England to provide these kits. The tests are a discreet way for people who are sexually active to find out if they are HIV positive and prevent transmitting the infection further.
“Thankfully HIV treatments have advanced dramatically in recent years and if diagnosed early there is a range of treatments available. However, if undiagnosed there can be life changing consequences.”
If left untreated, HIV can be fatal. It damages the immune system, preventing our bodies from fighting off infections that we could normally handle.
More than 500 people died from HIV-related illness in the UK in 2013 which is why testing for HIV is crucial, and why advances such as these testing kits, and campaigns such as National HIV Testing Week are so important.
Residents who are outside of the at risk groups can still take advantage of free testing in the borough.
For information on what services Harrow Council offer, click here: