What is the “Texting for Testing” (T4T) programme?
T4T is a simple intervention to increase access to HIV testing, improve understanding and decrease stigma about HIV. Based on a highly successful pilot in one GP cluster (a group of GP surgeries working together locally) in South Cardiff, it will run throughout 2022 across Cardiff & Vale Health Board.
The programme consists of supporting GPs to send brief HIV testing messages and a link to order a test by text message to all adult patients they have contact numbers for. The patients have the choice to act or not, but can find out more about HIV testing and get a free test to do in the privacy of their own home by following the link provided. Backup support includes testing information leaflets and, if wanted, information sessions for GP clusters or individual surgeries. In addition, online information and a direct link for GPs to offer rapid referrals for anyone needing them to Cardiff Royal Infirmary’s specialist services will also be provided. Specialist clinicians and expert patients (trained local people living with HIV) will be available in support.
Alongside the work with the clusters, there will be social and other media promotion of HIV testing, normalising it and educating the public on the benefits of testing, modern HIV treatment and PrEP. We will aim to target specific communities which have not previously received HIV testing messages including ethnic minorities and women.
Data from the project will enable us to compare acceptability and takeup of different types of testing available (for example, self-testing and postal testing) and whether there is any difference in takeup from clusters with differing local demographics.
The pilot for this intervention found that it was acceptable and appropriate, with little disruption to the work of the surgery but effective in increasing testing, particularly among people who were at identifiable risk of HIV transmission but who had never tested previously, or not recently. It was low cost, confidential and effective and an evaluation of it (read our research papers here) has been presented at various national and international conferences and seen as groundbreaking.
The funding for this wider expansion has been provided for one year by Gilead Sciences and will include all costs for participating clusters alongside an evaluation which will form the basis of a “how-to” guide for other health boards and cities wanting to implement similar schemes. The project will be managed by Fast Track Cardiff & Vale in close co-operation with Public Health Wales and Cardiff & Vale Health Board.
- To support GP clusters across Cardiff & Vale to offer HIV testing to all adult patients registered with them within the lifetime of the project, using both rapid and postal testing means;
- To produce a service evaluation with learning from this which allows replication across other Welsh Health Boards as part of the Wales HIV Action Plan;
- To familiarise Cardiff & Vale GPs with modern HIV messages about U+U and PrEP and increase their willingness to engage with referrals for HIV testing.
For more information about the programme, please contact us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Terrence Higgins Trust has a list of frequently asked questions on their self-testing site.
Sexual health services in Cardiff are provided by Cardiff & Vale University Health Board. Contact Cardiff Royal Infirmary Sexual Health Clinic if you need further testing or advice.