Home HIV Tests Sold Online in Britain, Despite Ban
Although the sale of HIV home testing kits is illegal in Britain, the kits can be purchased on the Internet for less than $45 because of a legal loophole, BBC News reports. British law stipulates that individuals seeking a test should receive counseling "to help them deal with the consequences." The kits, which work by taking a small blood sample from a finger prick, get around the counseling requirement by including written information saying that positive results must be confirmed by a second test at a laboratory. But U.K. doctors encourage those worried about HIV to receive a free, confidential test at a clinic. "If you go to a clinic you have access to counselors and doctors so you can talk through your future options with professionals," Colin Dixon of the Terrance Higgins Trust said. He added, "If you're at home on your own and you find out that you're HIV positive then where do you go? Who do you talk to?" In addition to counseling concerns, Professor Jonathon Weeber, an HIV expert, said that the home tests "are not as accurate as the tests we can do in a laboratory, so there could be a false negative or a false positive [result]. ... [The test tubes are] not easy to deal with, and I think would be very difficult to use accurately." However, companies claim that the test kits are more than 99% accurate. Charles Dupont, owner of one Malta-based Web site offering home test kits, told the BBC that British citizens have a right to buy the kit, saying, "We are providing a public service and people in Britain should be allowed to buy it" (Bradley, BBC News, 1/31).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.