Testing project gets go-ahead

Our African Health Project will be able to help 500 people to know their HIV status this year, after funding was agreed to provide point of care testing kits.

The kits will be made available through our African Health Project teams in Greater Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Forth Valley, and can give a result in 15 minutes.

The funding has come from the NHS boards in these areas and follows a successful pilot project last year, using HIV self-testing kits. The pilot revealed that these kits helped to break down the barriers that prevent more Africans from accessing testing.

Self-testing kits are usually ordered online for home use. However, our project will make them available through our existing outreach work with African communities, including at local events, and through HIV awareness workshops offered in partnership with local community groups and churches.

People will have control over how they use the test – with options to take it then and there with staff support, or to take it home to use at a time to suit them.

The new project adds to the testing options we offer through our African Health Project, which also provides dried blood spot testing for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

The ambition is to ensure that more people are able to know their status earlier, helping to reduce new HIV infections and allowing those living with HIV to access treatment that can control the virus.

Two of the major barriers that prevent more Africans from accessing testing are fear of an HIV diagnosis, and stigma within the community associated with the condition. These barriers can make people reluctant to visit sexual health services.

Our self-testing project can help overcome these fears, firstly by offering a quick easy testing option alongside accurate information about living with HIV and, secondly, by providing a community-based option that can be taken at a time and place to suit the individual.

If you are interested in finding out more about the project, contact our African Health Project teams in Lanarkshire, Forth Valley, and Greater Glasgow and Clyde.