what is FLASH?

FLexible Alternatives to Self HIV testing. Another option for HIV testing for sex workers who identify as female.

who we are

We are a group of organisations aiming to improve access to, and uptake of, HIV testing.

Brighton Oasis Project (BOP) has been delivering services to sex workers in Brighton and Hove (currently SWOP Sussex) for nearly 18 years.

what is the FLASH project about?

  • FLASH aims to see if HIV self-testing is practical and useful for sex workers who identify as female.
  • FLASH is trans-inclusive and aims to improve access to testing for sex workers regardless of immigration status.
  • A free HIV self-test can be ordered here and delivered by post.
  • We’d like your feedback after receiving the test. We have an optional online or paper survey.
  • We hope to interview some people who have used the kit. This is optional. This can be anonymous. Find out More
  • Information provided from kit orders, the survey and interviews is confidential.

why is FLASH aimed at female and trans women sex workers?

Regular testing can give you peace of mind and put you in control of your health.

Here are some reasons we are offering free HIV self-tests to female-identified sex workers:

  • The legal situation around sex work, and immigration status of some, can result in worry about access to health screening and care.
  • Clinics can also be stressful for some and can take a long time.
  • Barriers like waiting times, stigma, language, fear of judgement and inconvenience may put people off having regular tests.
  • Some sex workers may be a long way from a sexual health clinic.

Due to absence of sexual health screening data on trans women in the UK there is little known about HIV rates in UK trans women sex workers. Globally it is estimated to be as high as 20% in trans women.

The HIV rate in UK female sex workers is not thought to be higher than the general population. Despite this HIV risk can still be a worry for many sex workers.

The purpose of FLASH is about ease of access to HIV testing rather than finding out the HIV status of sex workers.

what does taking part in FLASH involve?

  • If you are eligible for the FLASH project, you can order a free HIV self testing kit from this website.
  • You will be asked some basic questions before you place your order. We will need a name or pseudonym and an address to send the kit to. This information will not be kept. We destroy it a week after despatch.
  • Once you receive the kit, there will be instructions in the pack to follow for use. Or you can go here to watch the video or follow instructions on how to do the test.
  • If you wish to give feedback on your experience after receiving the test, you can take part in our research survey. There is an option to give a mobile number or email address and we can send a reminder after you receive the kit.

organisations involved in the FLASH project

  • Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) researchers provide support on the evaluation of FLASH.
  • Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust providing HIV and sexual health expertise.
  • Biosure UK makes the HIV self-testing kits for FLASH. Kits are provided at a reduced price.
  • Funding is from Gilead Sciences under its UK and Ireland Fellowship Programme. Gilead develops therapies for people living with, and at risk of, HIV. Neither BioSURE nor Gilead have input into the design of FLASH or the analysis and presentation of the results.
  • FLASH Steering Committee guides project development and progress. It’s made up of members from BOP, BSMS, Biosure, Public Health, HIV and Sexual Health Consultants and the Clinic T (Trans clinic) Lead.
  • FLASH Participation Group is a group of sex workers who advise on aspects of development and implementation of the project.

To get started, simply tell us where you would like us to send your free kit!