Merton residents over 16 years of age, can now order easy-to-use self-testing kits for sexually transmitted infections (STI) through Sexual Health London which is an online service. Results can then be accessed within a week.
Almost 2,000 HIV and STI home testing kits have been ordered by Merton residents since January, through the new online service run by NHS and 27 London boroughs.
The introduction of the free Sexual Health London (SHL) service is part of a number of changes to sexual health services, which have seen the commissioning of contraception, STI testing and treatment services brought together so that they are available under one roof in most sexual health clinics across the capital.
SHL is aimed at people without symptoms who want to manage their sexual health online without having to take time off work for a simple test.* Over 3,000 chlamydia and 1,000 gonorrhoea infections have been identified in London since the launch in January 2018, with 260 people also initially testing positive on screening tests for HIV.
The easy-to-use home testing kits, which test for HIV, hepatitis and a range of bacterial STIs, make it more convenient for people to access testing and manage their sexual health whenever it suits them.
SHL is becoming one of the most popular ways for Londoners to check their HIV status. 98% of people who have used the service say they would recommend it to their friends or family.**
The changes to sexual health services are aimed at improving access to sexual health services in London at a time when government funding for public health is being cut. The increase in online home testing enables sexual health clinics to spend more time seeing people who have symptoms of an STI or more complex needs.
People can order the kits for free at shl.uk or through local clinics. They are delivered in discreet packaging in about two working days. Kits are then sent back free of charge to Sexual Health London’s testing lab. People receive their results typically within two working days.
If there is any need for follow-up care, the service gets in touch to support people to access clinic appointments. Treatment for certain types of chlamydia can be sent through the post, free of charge for use at home, without any need to visit a clinic.
Dr Sara Day, Consultant at Sexual Health London, said: “We’re really proud to be at the forefront of free, confidential online HIV and sexual health testing with our Sexual Health London service. I’ve spoken to lots of people who’ve used the service, which has been hugely popular so far. People really value the convenience of a 24/7 service, find the kits straight-forward to use and appreciate the tailored follow-up advice they get from us if they need it.”
Merton’s cabinet member for adult social care and health, Councillor Tobin Byers, said: “We are glad to have partnered with the rest of London to bring the London wide e-service for STI and HIV testing to Merton residents. I want to encourage everyone to take advantage of this online service that is hassle-free, convenient and quick. Merton has a variety of places across the borough where you can access advice and testing services with more information available via NHS Sexual Health South West London Website. Knowing your status is essential to ensure early diagnosis and increased morbidity and mortality of people with HIV and prevent the spread of STI’s.”
If someone has a positive test for HIV, we get in touch with them to provide their result, offer support and provide a fast track referral into their local sexual health clinic for confirmatory testing and engagement with HIV services. Sexual Health London makes it easier than ever for people in London to manage their sexual health whenever it suits them. By working closely with London’s sexual health clinics, we want to play our part in ending all new HIV transmissions.
NOTES TO EDITORS
*Not all infections are symptomatic **Taken from a feedback survey of 37,500 people who have used the Sexual Health London service.
Every year, over 600,000 sexual health screens are carried out in clinics across London, equating to around 2.5m individual tests. Sexual Health London is commissioned by 28 London local authorities as part of the London Sexual Health Programme (LSHP). It is provided by a consortium made up of lab partner, Preventx, clinical care partner, Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, digital healthcare partner, Zesty, and LloydsPharmacy, which provides chlamydia treatment for the Sexual Health London service.
The London Sexual Health Programme is a partnership of 31 London local authorities working with the NHS to make sure that access to sexual health services is increased at a time when Government funding for public health in London is reducing by around £70 million between 2015 and 2020.
The LSHP was established in 2015 and, since then, has:
- Introduced joint commissioning for contraception, testing and treatment services, meaning that people can now access these services together in more clinics across London.
- Introduced long-term contracts for clinics and new tariffs for sexual health services so similar rates are paid for comparable services across the capital, meaning both clinics and local authorities can better plan their budgets
- Launched the online Sexual Health London testing service, currently available in 28 local authority areas, where people in London can order an easy-to-use STI test online, get it sent to their home and access the results online.
For more information, please contact Kristoffer.Backer-Rowley@Hackney.gov.uk or call 020 8356 5044 or 020 8356 3736.
London HIV Prevention Programme
Although HIV diagnosis rates in London are falling, HIV remains a major public health challenge and the capital is home to an estimated 39,000 people living with the condition. The London HIV Prevention Programme (LHPP) is a pan-London initiative also funded by the boroughs and has been a key part of the capital’s recent success in reducing HIV. Find out more here: http://doitlondon.org/about/.