to your health

Those Home HIV Kits You Bought Online Might Make Testing Easy, But They Aren’t Necessarily Accurate

Things you should probably not purchase over the Internet: Pharmaceuticals, brides, and now, it turns out, HIV tests.

The ability to find out your status in the comfort of your own home has its advantages, like privacy and cost. Also, its drawbacks. Like the possibility of learning you’re HIV-positive and, with nobody around to counsel you about your options, descending into a depressive and destructive state. And that convenience factor? Some Brits are learning the hard way that the logistical advantages of ordering those HIV kits online aren’t worth the risk of having faulty tests.

Which is why they’re illegal in the United Kingdom.

HIV home testing kits that give instant results are being sold illegally online to UK consumers, according to Which? magazine. The leading consumer magazine reported the websites to the Department of Health, and they are being investigated.

Which? bought test kits from three websites: Safescreen, Labpro, and Self Tests Direct. They also bought a fourth kit from a site called Mid Pacific Medical but were still
awaiting its delivery at the time of writing. Self Tests Direct, the only site to respond to us, said: ‘We had no idea we weren’t supposed to sell these kits in the UK.’ It has since taken its public website down.”

HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust told “Because people can’t buy home testing kits legally they’re buying kits on the internet – and these aren’t subject to any form of UK quality control. As well as that they don’t tell you where you can go for help to cope with your result, or provide information about safer sex. More worryingly, because they aren’t made to UK standards the results might not be accurate. Home testing kits can be reliable and safe but the high standards that are essential for an accurate test can only be achieved through regulation – and that won’t happen when they’re illegal.”

We’re sure we’re going to hear from those who have purchased home kits from the web, and been perfectly satisfied with the results. But if these tests aren’t up to government health standards, is it really worth risking freaking out over a false-positive? Or, perhaps worse, going about your merry way thinking you’re negative, when you most certainly are not?

Not only does it make you, the consumer, vulnerable, but it could make the online retail outlets legally culpable for the harrowing outcomes.