You can test yourself in private

HIV tests that you can administer to yourself at home are now available.

The kits, which promise 99.9 per cent accuracy and results within four minutes, are now available in pharmacies due to the recent lifting of the ban on pharmacies to sell these DIY tests.

The Pharmacy Council of South Africa will now be looking to release a set standard to assure quality of the tests. This is crucial to the tests being sold.

The tests, which are also available through mail order, operate through a blood test taken from the fingertip. Other tests such as OraQuick, which is FDA approved, work on a saliva test in order to produce results.

The main benefit of the at-home test is the privacy aspect. Users can test themselves in the comfort of their homes without fear of their results being spread around. The test is also extremely quick and accurate, resulting in added convenience.

The main concern around the test is the fact that they are not administered in a setting where counseling is immediately available. In such a setting as someone’s home anything could happen from tests being poorly administered to suicides and self-harm occurring once results are obtained.

Despite these concerns, it is certainly exciting to see the progress made when it comes to HIV testing. If a quality standard is issued and tests are made user-friendly the stigma associated with HIV testing could be eliminated, ensuring that more South Africans receive early diagnosis and treatment and less people become infected with the virus.

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  AUTHOR
Jamie Feldman

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