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56 Dean Street wins national award for home testing HIV service

20 November 2013

Sexual health services at 56 Dean Street have won the Improving Care with Technology award from the Health Service Journal for their Dean Street at Home service aimed at gay men at high risk of contracting HIV.

Sexual health services at 56 Dean Street have won the Improving Care with Technology award from the Health Service Journal for their Dean Street at Home service aimed at gay men at high risk of contracting HIV. This unique service, supported by Gaydar and DrThom, provides an online self-assessment of HIV risk, the opportunity to self-test with a postal mouth swabbing sampling kit and test results provided by telephone. We are the first NHS provider to deliver such a home testing service and it is the second national award the Dean Street at Home service has won this year. 

Gaydar sends an instant message to 800 of its 120,000 registered users in the Zone 1 Travelcard area (we are now national so this may be best coming out)  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. 

Late diagnosis is the leading cause of HIV related illness and death in the UK with 39% of UK HIV cases in men who have sex with men (MSM) diagnosed late and 1 in 4 cases undiagnosed. Public Health England (PHE) estimates that 82% of cases in MSM are caught from an undiagnosed partner. Reducing undiagnosed HIV is an important tool to reduce transmission.  Just 1% more early diagnosis within 5 years would lead to 3,500 fewer transmissions and save £18 million in treatment costs per year in England.

NICE recommend that all MSM should test annually however only 15-25% currently do. Reasons for not having an annual test include unwanted counselling and the inconvenience of going to a sexual health service. Dean Street at Home was designed to eliminate these barriers and encourage MSM to follow the NICE guidance by reaching them using social media and smartphone applications to be tested discreetly. 

It the first 12 months:

  • 8,846 MSM visited the ‘Dean Street at Home’ website
  • 7,753 completed the on line self-assessment of their HIV risk
  • 2,284 ordered a test kit
  • 1,439 returned a sample for processing
  • 42 were confirmed HIV positive

Dr Alan McOwan, Consultant and Clinical Lead for 56 Dean Street, said: “It’s vital for all NHS services to tailor their care to meet the needs of each individual in order to improve health outcomes and experience.  Our experienced clinicians know that some of our MSM clients don’t want to physically come into a sexual health service to get tested. The most important thing is that they have regular sexual health checks and so we designed this innovative service using the latest technology available to eliminate these barriers and help them get tested in a way that best suits them.

“The most important statistic is that 42 individuals got an early diagnosis of HIV within one year of the Dean Street at Home starting and this early diagnosis and treatment will hopefully allow them to live a long and healthy life with a positive diagnosis of HIV.”