Background/introduction In November 2015, Public Health England, with the support of Local Authorities, launched a nationwide HIV self-sampling service free for populations most at-risk of HIV acquisition (www.freetesting.hiv). In February 2016 the service was devolved to participating local authorities who have taken responsibility for the service in their areas.
Aim(s)/objectives To determine who is accessing the service and whether it reached most at-risk groups (including MSM and Black African communities) and first-time testers.
Methods Disaggregated anonymised data from service users ordering kits from 18 November 2015 – 31 January 2016 were analysed, including: ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, local authority residency and self-reported HIV testing information.
Results During this period there were 17,114 kits ordered of which 51% (n = 8,706) were returned with a 1.4% reactive rate (n = 122). 82% (n = 7149) of kits returned were from MSM with a 1.34% reactive rate (n = 96). 32% reported never testing and 40% testing over a year ago. 18% (n = 1537) of kits returned were from heterosexuals. Of those 42% (n = 649) were from Black African individuals with a 1.54% reactive rate (n = 10) and 31% reported never testing and 45% testing over a year ago. Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham are the local authorities presenting the highest service demand across England.
Discussion/conclusion The national self-sampling service has been successful at engaging most at-risk populations for HIV acquisition across the nation and those who had not tested for HIV as frequently as recommended in national guidelines; including many who have never tested before.
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