Thousands of faulty STI and HIV test kits seized amid fears they gave WRONG results

The at-home kits, which can be bought online and also test for sexually transmitted infections (STI), could contribute to the spread of nasty infections through giving false results, health officials warned.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has seized 10,000 test kits since 2015.

People are being urged to make sure they buy from safe and legitimate retailers to avoid fake STI and HIV testing kits.

Fake test kits could potentially give false negatives and lead to an increase in diseases such as chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea as well as HIV.

A false negative test result occurs when the test shows a negative result for infection when the person is positive.

The tests were seized as part of the #FakeMeds campaign, which aims to crackdown on online sites selling fake and faulty products.

Approved testing kits will have a CE mark on them, this shows they conform with European standards for health and safety, have gone through proper and vigorous testing so are safe to use according to the instruction.

TV doctor Oscar Duke said: "It is terrifying that there are so many fake and dangerous STI test kits out there, which could cause people to unwittingly spread infections and diseases.

"Be safe and make sure you are buying legitimate products.

"If you suspect you may have an STI, please visit your local GP or healthcare professional – it’s much better to be safe than sorry."

Michael Brady, medical director of HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust, added: "It’s great that medical advances now mean there are increasingly more HIV and STI testing options available online.

"Improving access, choice and convenience of where and how to test are key components of our approach to HIV prevention and tackling STIs.

"But it is extremely worrying to hear about illegal and fake test kits being advertised online and Terrence Higgins Trust supports the #FakeMeds campaign from the MHRA.

"We agree that it’s really important for people to know that what they’re purchasing is safe, effective and will reliably diagnose or exclude STIS and HIV."

WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOUR TEST IS FAKE

  • Do not use any kit that has not been sealed, that has damaged packaging or is outside of its expiry date
  • Make sure that the instructions for use are clear, easy to follow and written in understandable language
  • If you have any concerns about the quality of a self-test kit, report it to the MHRA using the Yellow Card Scheme

Some 25 per cent of young people have bought medical products online in the last 12 months, according to MHRA research.

Worryingly, around 10 per cent admitted to buying products they knew or suspected were fake.

More than 60 per cent of those surveyed bought STI kits after reading about them online, with many wanting to avoid the embarrassment of buying them in pharmacy.

Graeme Tunbridge, of the MHRA, said: "Know what you’re buying by purchasing self-test kits and other medical devices from a safe and legitimate provider.

"Look for the distance selling logo which means that the supplier is registered with the MHRA to sell medicines to the public and has been accredited as a legitimate source.

"Make sure that the test is easy to use and has clear instructions.

"Alternatively, if you are buying a medicine online look for the distance selling logo, which means that the supplier is registered with the MHRA to sell medicines to the public and has been accredited as a legitimate source."



 

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