- Title: Gay sauna in Britain fights HIV with test first-of-kind vending machine
- Date: 11th August 2017
- Summary: BRIGHTON, ENGLAND, UK (FILE) (REUTERS) ICONIC DERELICT BRIGHTON PIER IN SEA / BRIGHTON BEACH DERELICT PIER
- Embargoed: 25th August 2017 17:27
- Keywords: innovative vending machine HIV tests gay sauna Brighton touchscreen machine self-testing kits sexual health
- Location: BRIGHTON, ENGLAND, UK
- City: BRIGHTON, ENGLAND, UK
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Living / Lifestyle,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA0016TPR96V
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: An innovative vending machine for HIV tests being piloted in Britain could help in the fight to end the epidemic by encouraging more people to find out whether they have contracted the virus as a first step to seek treatment, a doctor said.
Installed at a gay sauna in the southern seaside city of Brighton, the first-of-its-kind touchscreen machine distributes free finger prick self-testing kits that can be collected anonymously and used at home, providing results within minutes.
"It's really quick and easy to use, there is no hassle," 18-year-old Callum Stripp, a user of the sauna, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"Kind of less embarrassing than it is actually going to a clinic... it's a lot easier than actually having to go to the doctors," he added.
An estimated 14 percent of more than 100,000 people living with HIV in Britain have not been diagnosed and are unaware they have the virus, according to government figures.
Dr. Gill Dean, an HIV-specialist with the Martin Fisher Foundation (MFF) which is running the pilot project, said if the vending machine could encourage more people to test, then perhaps the HIV epidemic could be bought to a close.
If the programme is a success more machines will be rolled out in other Brighton locations as well as across the UK, and perhaps offering even more services.
"You could have a sexual health station in the future, so it is very much the first of its kind from that point of view. And I think the history is that if there is a stigma attached to something then vending machines have been a very good way of people collecting that intervention where they feel they can do it more anonymously," said Dean.
MFF said it planned to roll out 10 more machines at gay venues across Brighton, which has the second highest prevalence of HIV in Britain after London.
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