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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 February 2006, 15:48 GMT
Free sex test devices in pipeline
Condoms
The government is keen to curb rising STD infection rates
Free testing kits for a variety of sexually-transmitted diseases could be made available on UK high streets under future government plans.

The Department of Health is exploring new ways to curb rising infection rates and make testing easier.

Minister Caroline Flint told the Independent on Sunday it was important the issue became "less of a taboo".

Kits, which have yet to be developed, could be available in supermarkets and garages, with results sent by texts.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said it was still "early days" and a great deal of research into the accuracy of tests was needed.

More research needs to be done on whether handing out testing kits for other STIs would be effective
Department of Health spokeswoman

Technology for the test does not yet exist, but the department said it was a long-term aim.

The spokeswoman said so far there were no measures or time frame in place for the introduction of the kits.

She said the aim was to "normalise" testing for diseases and "remove the embarrassment factor by making testing available in places like pharmacies".

The spokeswoman said: "We want to make services more accessible to people and move them outside traditional settings."

She said they would start with chlamydia tests, as the infection often does not produce obvious symptoms, but affects thousands of people across England. People aged 16-24 were the target market.

"More research needs to be done on whether handing out testing kits for other STIs would be effective," she added.

"At this stage the tests are not accurate enough for STIs such as gonorrhoea or herpes."

In a pilot scheme Boots gave young people 6,000 chlamydia testing kits. A decision will be taken whether to roll these tests out nationally once the trial has been concluded.




SEE ALSO:
'Instant test' for sex disease
17 Dec 03 |  Health
Sexually transmitted infections
11 Jun 03 |  Medical notes
One in 10 men 'has chlamydia'
22 May 03 |  Health


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