A GROUNDBREAKING scheme is now available for free HIV tests.

A specially designed vending machine has been installed at the Brighton Sauna to provide a new method of convenient, confidential and discreet testing.

The innovative project is a collaboration between the Martin Fisher Foundation, BioSure, designers, clinicians and researchers.

The state-of-the-art machine, the first project of its kind, uses a digital, touch-screen technology.

The aim is to continue work across Brighton and Hove to increase testing rates and get people diagnosed earlier.

The test involves a finger prick blood sample and the user gets a result in 15 minutes.

The service will be available 24 hours a day and is free.

Funding was awarded to the Brighton and Hove-based foundation by Public Health England’s HIV prevention innovation fund.

Brighton and Hove has become the first UK city to be awarded Fast Track City status.

This is a global initiative uniting cities across the world aiming end the risk of HIV being a public health threat.

The goals are to have 90 per cent of people living with HIV being diagnosed, 90 per cent on treatment and 90 per cent of those must be virally suppressed.

Engaging gay men in routine testing is a key aim of the vending machine scheme, led by Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust HIV consultant Gillian Dean.

She said: “This is a great example of true partnership working, combined with innovative technology.”

Experts say self-testing empowers individuals to test themselves in private and convenient settings and helps normalise the conversation about HIV.

The tests have been provided by the company BioSure.

Chief executive Brigette Bard said: “We have gained unique insight into people’s views of self testing and could not be more thrilled to now launch the UK’s first vending machine.

“It provides convenience and discretion and of course, innovation.

“Treatments for HIV are so amazing now that people should not be wary of knowing their status.

“It is testing that is vital, however people choose to do that.

“We are thrilled to be part of the solution to ending HIV by 2030 and delivering the first Aids-free generation.”

In the UK one in eight people who have HIV are unaware of their condition.

Experts need to reach those people as they are unknowingly responsible for the majority of onward transmission.