A report published by Wiley online library on 30 January 2022 examines the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on HIV testing in Brighton and Hove. The report used data on HIV tests performed in Brighton and Hove from January 2016 to June 2021 to compare the monthly number of tests and diagnoses before and during the pandemic across different services.

Key findings in the report:

  • The number of patients having tests for HIV in sexual health services (SHS) decreased by 64% in April 2020 with a recovery to baseline levels by the beginning of 2021
  • The monthly number of diagnoses decreased considerably after April 2020; half of diagnoses made by SHS in 2020 were in the 3 pre-pandemic months of the year
  • ‘Self-sampling’ was used more by woman and younger patients which considerably aided the recovery in 2021

These findings show the important future role of self-sample testing in sexual health services and the need to expand access to it. This can be achieved with increased NHS and private sexual health testing sector collaboration.

Further findings in the report:

  • Testing numbers were reduced in specialist services, but in the emergency department testing increased four-fold (notably in the elderly) without finding any cases
  • General practice saw decreases in both the number of HIV tests performed and the number of new diagnoses made, which had not returned to baseline by June 2021

There were no cases found in the emergency department testing with the elderly mainly attending, who are likely to be at lower risk of HIV infection. This further highlights the ongoing debate on whether we should be concentrating on testing the general population or whether targeted testing would prove more worthwhile.

The drop in HIV tests at general practices is of particular concern, early and regular testing, diagnosis and treatment for an HIV patient is crucial. According to the report, “delayed diagnosis can lead to onward transmission in the absence of obvious symptoms and increased morbidity”. 


‘Self-sampling’ became available in Brighton and Hove in March 2020 and accounted for 47% of tests during the pandemic in 2020 and 52% in 2021. The graph below shows the number of patients tested in the clinic and through self-sampling (Self) in Brighton and Hove from January 2016 to June 2021. It shows a steep rise in self-sampling from 2020.

Number of patients tested  in Brighton and Hove 2016 to 2021.

Self-sampling is considered by many to be where the future lies, especially for the younger generation who are more comfortable with purchasing online. Home tests have the added advantage of being both discreet and confidential.

How can you check your sexual health?

Better2Know can assist you in taking care of your sexual health. If you are worried about your sexual health including STIs and HIV, then speak with one of our highly trained personal advisors confidentially today by phone or live chat.

Our team is here to help you 24 hours a day, seven days a week to obtain peace of mind about your health. We can arrange discreet testing at a clinic near you, with a private nurse visit, or you can order a convenient home test kit.


[1] Wiley online library: The impact of COVID-19 on HIV testing in the UK´s first Fast-Track HIV city

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