HIV test kits now available to buy on the high street

Superdrug says self-testing will reduce results waiting time and increase early diagnosis rates

A traditional HIV test
(Image credit: Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

HIV testing kits are to go on sale on the high street for the first time, in a move that should reduce waiting times for results and could help increase early diagnosis rates.

Superdrug has announced it will sell the BioSURE test, which provides a result in 15 minutes, in all of its 200 pharmacy stores in the UK, for £33.95.

BioSURE became the first legally approved self-testing kit in the UK back in 2015 but has only been available to buy online.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

It works by analysing a small amount of blood from a finger-prick sample to detect the presence of HIV antibodies. Experts say that while these home-testing kits are highly accurate, positive results must be confirmed at sexual health clinics.

The health and beauty chain said offering the home-testing kit in its store would help reduce a person's waiting time between taking the test and their result, and could increase early diagnosis.

The move has been welcomed by the Terrence Higgins Trust, a British charity that campaigns about and provides services relating to HIV and sexual health, although it warned not everyone would be able to afford to buy a self-testing kit.

Free HIV testing is available on the NHS, or through sexual health clinics, some GP surgeries and charities.

The HIV virus, which attacks the immune system, “has become more manageable in recent years owing to developments in available treatments” says The Guardian, although about one in eight people living with HIV in the UK remain undiagnosed.

The BBC says “late diagnosis can have a devastating impact on health and life expectancy”.

In May, the Terrence Higgins Trust launched a six-month programme to enable people in high-risk groups to order free HIV self-testing kits.

The charity has estimated that there are 10,400 people in the UK who do not know that they are living with HIV, meaning they are not taking medication and could unknowingly be passing on the virus.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.