SELPHI: An HIV Self-testing Public Health Intervention

Does the offer of free HIV self-testing kits lead to increased rates of HIV diagnosis?

What is this study about?

SELPHI is looking at whether the offer of free HIV self-tests could decrease the time between infection and diagnosis of HIV in men, trans men and trans women who have sex with men.

Currently, most HIV tests are conducted in genito-urinary medicine (GUM) clinics. HIV self-testing is where a person carries out the test themselves. They take a sample of blood and process it themselves using a self-testing kit. We think some people may be more likely to test for HIV using this method than others because it is more private, quick and convenient than visiting a clinic.

This study aims to investigate:

  • the potential impact of self-testing in the UK
  • how men, trans men and trans women feel about using self-testing
  • whether the NHS should provide free HIV self-testing
  • whether free self-testing could increase HIV diagnosis and lead to more people receiving treatment for HIV

We are aiming to recruit 10,000 men, trans men and trans women to SELPHI. To join, men must be 16 or over, must have had anal sex with a man in the past, must not have been diagnosed HIV positive, must be living currently in England or Wales. Those eligible for the study will be randomly allocated to the offer of a free HIV self-test versus no offer of a free HIV self-test .

The study is looking to compare the numbers of HIV diagnoses in the different groups (that is, those who receive tests and those who don’t).

We will collect this information in two ways:

  • when people tell us in survey responses that they have been diagnoses HIV positive
  • via linkage to Public Health England datasets recording all new HIV diagnoses in the UK.

Type of study

Randomised trial

Contact details

Who is funding the study?


When is it taking place?

Feb 2017 –Jun 2020

Where is it taking place?

England & Wales

Who is included?

Men (including trans men) and trans women:

- Who have ever had anal sex with a man;

- Who are not known to be HIV-positive;

- Who are aged ≥16 years old;

- Who are living in England or Wales.