Call made for home HIV tests

2010-10-10 14:54

Three of the country’s leading health researchers have come out in support of home HIV tests which they believe will encourage people to test regularly.

The tests were first approved in the US in 1996.

Currently the SA Pharmacy Council bars pharmacies from selling these tests.

The researchers say home tests will decrease the costs of traditional voluntary counselling and testing and lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of HIV.

Marlise Richter, a PhD candidate at Belgium’s Ghent University; Wits Medical School associate professor Francois Venter; and senior lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Medical School, Andy Gray, make their call in an article published in this month’s SA Medical Journal.

“Accurate home-based tests will increase access to HIV testing – especially for individuals who have fears about stigma and confidentiality when testing in public facilities,” the researchers write.

They say the current legal and policy framework should be amended to include specific provisions on self-testing kits and to remove all provisions that would prohibit their distribution.

“SA has reached a point in its Aids epidemic where individuals should be able to decide when and where they test for HIV and do so without having to involve anyone else,” the researchers say.

However, the general secretary of the National Association of People Living with HIV-Aids, Nkululeko Nxesi, believes that home tests will put people under extreme pressure because they will be unsupervised.

“This will create more havoc than good,” Nxesi says.

The health department failed to respond to our queries.

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