Vending machines call for STI and HIV test kits

Feet in bed Image copyright Getty Images

Free test kits for sexually transmitted infections and HIV should be available in shops and vending machines to help encourage more people to get themselves tested, a charity has said.

Terrence Higgins Trust Cymru wants to "normalise" testing and reduce the stigma of getting checked out.

Wales has seen increases in new cases of chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea over the last year, but testing is up.

Public Health Wales said community testing was being considered.

It pointed out tests are free at GP surgeries and sexual health clinics.

But Sarah Fuhrmann, national director of Terrence Higgins Trust Cymru, said more people need to be tested.

"We are trying to normalise testing as much as possible," she said.

"We would love to see a home testing scheme available for pick-up points in communities - a box could be sat in the corner of a pharmacy or a barber's.

"You can do the same thing with chlamydia and gonorrhoea kits but it needs to be targeted.

"It's the same with where you can go and get the morning after pill in somewhere like Boots - people can just drop in, grab a test and go."

STIs are passed from one person to another through unprotected sex or genital contact, the NHS said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections

The tests can be carried out at home and the user would get the result there and then.

But there could be an option for tests which are posted to laboratories with results received by text or phone.

Ms Fuhrmann also suggested vending machines could be possible such as one which is being trialled in Brighton for HIV tests.

"Why not?" she said. "It has to be done correctly and in the right locations. It wouldn't be on the street next to coke cans."

However there would be a cost element.

Image copyright Martin Fisher Foundation
Image caption A vending machine containing HIV test kits is being trialled in a gay sauna in Brighton

"With regards to who might be in charge of the community based testing kits and their funding, this is something that requires on-going discussion and negotiation with relevant stakeholders and providers," she added.

"What we do know is that in other parts of the UK, these types of schemes have been successfully delivered through collaborations with third sector organisations such as ourselves and a variety of different funders both voluntary and statutory."

A Public Health Wales spokeswoman said: "While consideration is being given for community testing of some STIs, testing for many STIs, including chlamydia and HIV, is free within NHS Wales through GP surgeries and sexual health clinics.

"Public Health Wales has recently been commissioned by the Welsh Government to undertake a review of the sexual health services in Wales.

"The findings and recommendations of this review on targeted interventions and future developments in the provision of sexual health services will be published in the new year."

More on this story