New figures show thousands of counterfeit kits that can give incorrect results being sold online. About 2,000 fake STI tests have been seized in the UK in the past year, the medicines watchdog has revealed.
And a total of 12,000 fake tests had been confiscated by authorities during the past four years, according to data compiled from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) - leading to concerns that thousands of people may have been given incorrect diagnoses.
The at-home test devices for sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and chlamydia “can show negative results when the person is positive, resulting in an individual believing they are infection-free and unknowingly spreading an infection to others”, The Guardian reports.
As the i news site notes, the news comes just months after health charities demanded “urgent action” on STIs, as levels of gonorrhoea reach their highest levels in more than 40 years while health leaders warn of sexual health and HIV services being at “breaking point”.
How to spot a fake -The fake STI tests warning is part of the #FakeMeds campaign by the MHRA, which has also found that one in ten people in the UK have bought fake medical products online in the last year. The campaign was launched after research showed that more than half of all medical products sold online are either substandard or counterfeit.
Private screening service Your Sexual Health reports that one of the easiest ways to spot a fake test is the packaging. Fake tests will often arrive in a plain zip lock bag or sometimes even a sandwich bag, and “there may also be a number of elements from various different companies or a lack of branding completely”, says the company’s site. In addition, fake tests often have difficult-to-follow instructions that look like they’ve been printed on a home printer in black and white.
People searching for online tests should also check the validity of the website on which the kits are being sold, and read reviews by other customers. If there are only a small number of reviews, or an overwhelming number of negative ones, caution should be exercised.
For anyone aged 16-24 you can get a free Chlamydia/Gonorrhoea postal testing kit from any Cumbria GP Surgery or Pharmacy all supplied by Cumbria Sexual Health Services. Visit https://www.ncic.nhs.uk/services/sexual-health