A Baildon company is helping pioneer a new needle-free way of testing for HIV and hepatitis C in the UK – reducing the risks of infection.
Modern Health Systems (MHS) is the official UK supplier to an oral swab test made in the US.
The National Hepatitis C Trust uses the test including in its work with Bradford Teaching Hospitals.
The swab stick, which looks like a home pregnancy tester, takes only 20 minutes to give a result – one line is negative and a double line is positive.
Project manager for MHS, Sumiya Taqui is an expert on the device, promoting it across the country to health professionals as a safer way of testing than using needles and involving blood.
Miss Taqui, who specialised in HIV when she studied her pharmaceutical management degree in Bradford, said the oral swab test was generating lots of interest.
“It’s a simple test, there’s less risk of infection because there’s no needles and blood involved. And because a lot of people with Hep C use drugs, it can be hard to find their veins so that’s another advantage for health professionals using the swab, it’s easier,” she said.
The swab-maker Orasure has got a licence for it to be available for home-testing in the US and is now trying to get approval for the same in the UK.
In the US there is a hotline that people can ring so there is someone to talk to while they test themselves.
Miss Taqui said: “There is the question how people would cope here if they home-tested and got a positive result.
“That is something that would have to be carefully thought out if it was to happen in this country. Would there be a similar hotline and would it be through the NHS or a charity?
“Another idea is that it could be a back-room test at a chemist so the help and support would be there if needed. The ultimate aim is to get people aware of the condition and get them into treatment.
“My view is if someone is confident to buy the test themselves they would be strong enough to deal with the result and get follow-up help.”