Do it yourself HIV test is approved by the FDA


Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

A new H.I.V. test for home use that gives quick results was approved on Tuesday by the Food and Drug Administration, giving Americans the first chance in the epidemic’s 30 years to learn in the privacy of their own homes whether they are infected.

The test…called OraQuick, uses a cheek swab and gives results in 20 to 40 minutes, so it is as easy to use as a home pregnancy kit…

Each year about 50,000 Americans become infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, and about a fifth of the 1.2 million Americans who are now infected do not know it, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. Getting an infected person onto antiretroviral drugs early lowers by as much as 96 percent the chances that he or she will pass the virus on to someone else, studies have shown, so treatment has become a form of prevention that could shrink the epidemic…

Testing for AIDS has been more fraught with controversy than testing for any other disease because of the unique history of the epidemic….Being tested for AIDS was seen as tantamount to a public disclosure that one was homosexual or a drug addict, so maintaining privacy became paramount….

Any positive test needs confirmation in a doctor’s office, the FDA said. It approved the test not to replace medical testing but because many Americans never get tested at all. The hope is that the home test will encourage infected people to seek medical care earlier, helping save lives and slow the spread of the epidemic.

The article makes only one silly point. The presumption that people will be testing because they think they may have contracted HIV.

Wrong. I’ll bet the majority of tests taken by those who decide on their own – are sexually active and just checking up to make certain they haven’t bumped into the wrong bed by mistake. Think about it.

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2 comments

  1. wordmatchmaker

    Good point. However, I think it might be a good thing for more people to test themselves, even if they don’t actually suspect they have contracted HIV. (I don’t think you were actually saying that would be bad – I just wanted to point out the potential benefit.)

    One thing I laughed about in the article, however, was this: “Whether having to show identification would deter teenagers or young-looking people from buying a test is unclear. Mr. Harrington said he thought it might.” But of course it will deter young-looking people from checking their HIV status! And that could be a very bad thing.

    Overall, I think a home HIV test is a tremendously beneficial medical advancement.

  2. moss

    This test has only been available for a decade. About the usual time scale for American politicians and pundits to realize something useful to the public might be made available.

    We run our medical/political establishment roughly comparable to American building codes. Ten years behind the times at a minimum.

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