Vending machines in UK cities offer free testing for sexually transmitted diseases

Brighton and Bristol in the United Kingdom have deployed machines to tackle STIs, offering free testing to the community (File)

In at least two British cities, some vending machines offer not snacks and soft drinks, but a more unusual item: Free Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Self-Test Kit,

The initiative aims to remove some of the barriers that stop people from getting tested: the hassle of going to the doctor, the stigma of going sexual health clinic and lack of knowledge about testing options. These barriers contribute to the fact that every day even more One million new cases of sexually transmitted infectionsThat’s according to the World Health Organization, which has called for better access to testing and diagnostic services.

A study on the effectiveness of vending machines published this month found that more than half of its users said it was their first STD test. Promoted by the Brighton and Sussex Medical School and developed by the Martin Fisher Foundation, the vending machines can be found in more than 10 locations across UK regions. Bristol and Brighton.

“What we found across all the machines is that, actually, people look at these things and think, ‘You know what, OK, I’ll use this,’ and then they They start normalizing the tests“, he claimed jaime veraProfessor of HIV Medicine at Brighton and Sussex Medical School who led the project.

Vending machines in Brighton and Bristol offer free STI self-test kits (Jaime Vera/Brighton and Sussex Medical School)

In usaEven more in 2022 2.5 million cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydiaAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this figure has remained relatively stable over the years. Syphilis, especially congenital syphilis (transmitted during pregnancy), has increased significantly in recent years.

In general, STD rates in England increased by 24% That same year, and cases of gonorrhea increased by 50% compared with the previous year, according to an analysis of UK Health Protection Agency data by the Terrence Higgins Trust. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control reported in December that cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea had increased significantly across the European Union.

nicholas medland, former President of the Australian Society for HIV, Sexual Health and Viral Hepatitis Medicine, currently working at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales, says testing is a vital element in reducing the spread of STDs, because people need to know that they Sufferers to receive treatment from them and prevent it from spreading to other people. The British government recommends at least annual STD and HIV testing, citing regular testing as “essential for maintaining good sexual health”.

This initiative aims to facilitate diagnosis and fight against the spread of STIs (Jaime Vera/Brighton and Sussex Medical School).

Many common STDs, such as syphilisThe gonorrhea And this chlamydia, are treatable. He HIV / AIDSOnce an often fatal disease, it can now be controlled with treatment, especially when caught early.

Medland believes vending machine testing should be available as a supplement to existing services, but he said it “should not be used as a substitute for clinics, nor as a means to cut funding for clinics.” Should be done as justification.”

Jeffrey KlausnerThe professor of clinical population and public health sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California cautioned that such an approach is unlikely to work on a large scale in the United States, where the health care environment is very different. . The UK’s publicly funded universal system.

Sexually transmitted infections remain a global challenge, with one million new cases reported every day (Europa Press)

“It depends on who pays for it,” he said. He said that he had conducted a similar study HIV test kits in vending machines In angelPublished in 2018, found that less than half of people who had positive results continued treatment within the time frame of the study. The UK study only measured the intensity of testing, not treatment, but its authors concluded that vending machines were an effective means of reaching people who were rarely or “never” tested.

Over the course of a year, more than 2,500 self-diagnosis kits In vending machines located in shopping centers, a library, community centers, medical clinics, a university campus, and a sex business establishment. 208 users He completed a survey.

Vending machines offer HIV self-test kits, which can be done at home with results in 20 minutes, and tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, as well as HIV, which can be pre-filled. Must be placed in an envelope and sent by post. Visit a clinic to get results. Since the first machine was installed in Brighton, the medical school has also worked with partners zambia, Japan And JamaicaVera explained.

(c) 2024, The Washington Post

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