Warnings over fake STI testing kits

Over the last three years the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has seized nearly 10 000 sexually transmitted infection (STI) and HIV self-testing kits that could give unreliable and false results.

It is warning people who buy STI and HIV test kits online to make sure that they are purchasing from safe and legitimate sources. Approved self-testing kits carry a CE mark that shows they have gone through legitimate regulatory processes and are safe to use. Approved kits should also clearly state that they are intended for use as self-tests, the agency says. Unsafe kits are mostly being bought online.

In related research the MHRA reveals 25% of young people have bought medical products online in the past 12 months, while almost 1 in 10 (9%) admitted to buying products they knew, or strongly suspected, to be fake. More than 6 in 10 of those surveyed (63%) bought STI test kits after reading articles about home testing kits on a website, forum or blog; and 64% wanted to avoid the embarrassment of buying the kits in a shop or pharmacy.

Michael Brady, Medical Director, Terrence Higgins Trust says: ‘It is great that medical advances now mean there are increasingly more HIV and STI testing options available online. Improving access, choice and convenience of where and how to test are key components of our approach to HIV prevention and tackling STIs. However, it is extremely worrying to hear about illegal and fake test kits being advertised online and it is really important for people to know that what they’re purchasing is safe, effective and will reliably diagnose or exclude STIs and HIV.

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