Scots urged to use HIV home-testing kits on World AIDS Day

Almost 10,000 people have used the home-testing kits since they were launched last April.

Scots urged to use HIV home-testing kits on World AIDS Day iStock

The First Minister has urged people to make use of home-testing kits for HIV on World AIDS Day.

Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government had provided £120,000 to make the at-home testing kits available to anyone in Scotland.

Since the kits were launched in April last year, almost 10,000 people have made use of them, with 16 people testing positive.

Charity HIV Scotland said 2021 marks 40 years since the onset of the HIV pandemic and urged people to test, treat and eliminate the virus. 

Sturgeon said: “On World AIDS Day we remember all those who have lost their lives to AIDS-related illness over the past 40 years.  

“Today is also an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to eliminating HIV transmission in Scotland by 2030, and to reflect on the significant progress we have already made in the treatment and prevention of HIV. 

“In October, Scotland became the first country in the UK to authorise an injection to manage HIV, giving those with the condition a choice about the treatment that’s right for them.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon with one of the home-testing kits.HIV Scotland

“However, the more people who find out their HIV status and go onto treatment, the more HIV transmission can be prevented. 

“That’s why the Scottish Government has provided £120,000 to make free home-test kits available for anyone in Scotland.”

HIV Scotland chief executive Alastair Hudson said “times have changed dramatically” for those with the virus, adding that “Scotland has led the way in innovation”.

Mr Hudson, who is HIV positive, said: “We were the first country in the UK to offer a daily course of antiretroviral drugs, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) back in July 2017, which (can be) taken by HIV-negative people to protect themselves from infection.

“The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) recently licensed Cabotegravir (Vocabria), in combination with rilpivirine – the first ever long-acting injectable treatment for HIV, an alternative to the current daily pill-base regimen, reducing treatment from tablets 365 days a year to only six injections a year. This is another great tool in our armoury, in our fight against HIV.”

Speaking about his own health, he said: “I take one pill a day and have my blood tested twice a year. I am in rude health.

“We are a far cry from the stigma and injustice so beautifully portrayed in It’s A Sin which captured the scale of the loss we experienced in the 80s.”

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