The new vending machines offering free STI tests in the South West

In Bristol, machines have been installed in Watershed and Hamilton House Credit: NIHR ARC West

Four vending machines offering free STI tests have been launched in and around Bristol.

The machines have been set up in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, which all have a higher rate of confirmed HIV cases than the national average.

Bristol also has a high number of people being diagnosed with syphilis - but chlamydia is detected less often in the city than it is elsewhere in the UK.

Unity Sexual Health - which is run by the University Hospital of Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust - has set up the machines with the aim of providing a free and easy way of testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

To obtain a test people have to answer six questions and enter a code sent to their mobile phone into the machine.

Where have the STI machines been installed?

  • Watershed, Bristol

  • Hamilton House, Bristol

  • The Sovereign Shopping Centre, Weston-super-Mare

  • Willow Brook Shopping Centre, Bradley Stoke

What do they test for?

There are two types of test kits available and both can be carried out at home.

The first kit will test for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis. People will send a sample to the lab for free before receiving their results by test in one to three weeks.

The second kit tests for HIV, with the mouth swab providing a result in 20 minutes.

Sarah Stockwell, lead clinician from Unity Sexual Health, said: "We hope that this project will go some way to reducing the number of ongoing infections, as people with positive test results will be offered treatment by our service or other NHS services."

Cabinet member for public health and communities at Bristol City Council Ellie King said: "This is an exciting initiative which will make it easier for people across Bristol to access sexual health tests.

"I hope it will help reduce the stigma of getting checked for STIs and change the way many people think and talk about sexual health testing."