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56 Dean Street pioneers safe HIV home testing

06 March 2012

56 Dean Street, the Trust’s increasingly popular HIV and sexual health centre in Soho, has become the first NHS clinic to offer HIV home testing.

56 Dean Street, the Trust’s increasingly popular HIV and sexual health centre in Soho, has become the first NHS clinic to offer HIV home testing.

Dean Street at Home is a collaboration with the social networking website Gaydar and the online medical service DrThom, and is funded by Chelsea and Westminster Health Charity and a joint working agreement with Bristol Myers Squib.

Gaydar sends an instant message to 800 of its 120,000 registered users in the Zone 1 Travelcard area each day. Users complete an online pre-test discussion and are then offered a free HIV home testing kit from DrThom via the dedicated website.

Patients who test negative get a text message from DrThom giving them the good news while patients whose results indicate a possible positive are contacted directly by the expert team of health advisers at 56 Dean Street for further tests and advice.

Dr Alan McOwan, Lead Clinician at 56 Dean Street, says: “When Dean Street at Home went live in November, we started slowly to make sure the system was running smoothly but we have now increased to 800 messages per day.

“Of the first 80 kits that were returned, there were four HIV positives—5% of patients who tested themselves at home—which indicates that there is a definite need for HIV home testing.

“Without Dean Street at Home, these patients would not have been diagnosed and we know that early diagnosis is vital in helping patients to live as normal a life as possible with HIV.”

56 Dean Street has already identified funding for 1,900 tests over the next 12 months with funding bids submitted to carry out 3,500 tests over the next 12 months which would represent 1% of Gaydar users in London.