BioSURE is bringing cost-effective, straightforward, fast, and accurate testing technology for HIV to the mainstream via their self-testing HIV test kit. The aim is to get people talking and give people an alternative way to test, as part of a plan to eradicate HIV by 2030. BioSURE was founded by Brigette Bard in 2011.
There are 36.7 million people globally living with HIV, but an estimated 14 million of those people are unaware of their status and are unknowingly responsible for most of the onward transmissions (estimated at 5,000 per day). In the UK 20,000 people are not aware they are living with HIV and the only way to know is to test. HIV treatments are now so good, that a person on treatment can live a full and healthy life, but most importantly cannot pass the virus on. So HIV is a treatable condition – but only IF you know.
HIV is just 3 letters, it’s not a sentence.
BioSURE developed the first legally approved self-testing HIV test kit in the UK. The BioSURE HIV Self Testing Kit enables people to find out their HIV status at a time and place of their choosing. The test uses a very small amount of blood from a finger prick sample to detect the presence of HIV antibodies and is over 99.7% accurate. The easy-to-read result is available in just 15 minutes.
Their biggest achievement to date was developing the world’s first self-testing HIV test kit to utilize blood. They gained a CE mark and launched in the UK in 2015 and have focussed on dynamic ways of capturing unique evidence and data about the usability of the BioSURE HIV Self Test and how they feel about self-testing generally. BioSURE works with all of the major global stakeholders and is helping them to develop their understanding of the role self-testing has to play in the eradication of HIV as per the UN’s 90-90-90 Goals*. Consequently, the World Health Organisation released its guidelines at the end of 2016 ‘strongly recommending’ the integration of HIV self-testing into national testing algorithms.
The team is already underway with their global roll-out plan for the HIV test kit, with several more countries scheduled over the next couple of years.
BioSURE is led by Brigette Bard and has a small, agile team, but 37 million people in the world have HIV with an estimated 30% being undiagnosed. The fact that HIV doesn’t show any symptoms until it is advanced, coupled with the stigma factor, means the challenge in reaching and communicating with these people is huge.
In order to reach their goal of raising awareness of HIV self-testing and working towards the eradication of the virus, collaboration has had to be at the heart of BioSURE’s business strategy. They have collaborated with HIV charities and organizations to work together to raise awareness; they collaborate with art galleries and theatre companies that are addressing the AIDS epidemic by providing them with information; they partner with the NHS to help them distribute tests and information, and they partner with universities and hospitals on research and development.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg – globally, and especially in emerging markets, BioSURE has had to build strong partnerships with like-minded organizations. Their goal is that they can create synergies and networks that normalize and drive the conversation; a vital part in getting people to use the HIV test kit and in ‘delivering the first 90’.
*The UN 90-90-90 goals to eradicate HIV by 2030 - to diagnose 90% of people who have HIV, get 90% of those people onto treatment, and to have 90% of those virally suppressed.
At BioSure, we believe the best tool we have in the fight against HIV is to get people talking; breaking down barriers, and educating them about what living with HIV means today. HIV is completely treatable and yet remains the biggest global killer of women of childbearing age and the second biggest cause of death amongst adolescents. Self-testing, as a novel technology, gives us the opportunity to start a new style of conversation and helps people to feel empowered in testing on their own terms.
There really have been extraordinary leaps forward in the testing and treating HIV (apart from the launch of the innovative BioSure HIV Self Test of course!) Treatments are now so effective, that a one tablet per day regime can suppress the virus to undetectable levels. This means a person, who is regularly taking their medication, can live a long and healthy life, but as importantly they cannot pass it on.
We have to take the fear out of the equation. At BioSure, we use the strapline that ‘HIV is 3 letters, not a sentence’ which really says it all. People have to know how treatable HIV is and should only be afraid of not knowing their status, rather than knowing it.