From yesterday, following a legal move1 made by the North’s health minister, it is now possible to buy HIV self-testing kits and to test yourself for HIV.
Speaking on World AIDS Day, [Simon Hamilton MLA] said: “The change in the law will allow HIV self-testing kits to be sold to the public in Northern Ireland. Some people are reluctant to get tested for a number of reasons, including stigma and a fear of being judged, so self-testing will have an important role in reaching those who are not using existing services.”—DHSSPS press release 1 Dec 2015.
Testing at home is only one option of many available. There is also the more traditional route of going to the GUM clinic at one of several hospitals, or going to your own General Practitioner. There are also rapid testing projects at The Rainbow Project and Positive Life.
It should be borne in mind, however, that a home test may produce a false positive result or that the test may not be correct because of the window period. False reassurance may be the result and a later additional test may help to reassure.
List of Genito-Urinary Medicine clinics in the North:
- The Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast
- The Causeway Hospital, Coleraine
- Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry
- Tyrone County Hospital, Omagh
- Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry
For free advice on opening times of clinics and other assistance you can phone Positive Life’s Freephone Confidential Line on 0800 137 437 (in the UK).
1. The HIV Testing Kits and Services (Revocation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015 No. 412. (legislation.gov.uk)