News / Health

Self-Testing Might Help Curb Spread of HIV

In this undated handout photo provided by Orasure, a model demonstrates the OraQuick test, which detects the presence of HIV in saliva collected using a mouth swab. The test is designed to return a result within 20 to 40 minutes.
In this undated handout photo provided by Orasure, a model demonstrates the OraQuick test, which detects the presence of HIV in saliva collected using a mouth swab. The test is designed to return a result within 20 to 40 minutes.
Art Chimes
Scientists have found that self-tests are generally accurate and could be an important tool in the fight against HIV.
 
A new review finds that self-testing kits for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, are  accepted by users. But they caution it’s still unclear whether self-testing will actually reduce the spread of AIDS.

Most HIV testing is done in a doctor’s office or at a clinic, where saliva or blood samples are taken and analyzed by trained medical technicians. But home testing kits have been approved or are under consideration in a handful of countries, including the U.S., Singapore, Kenya, and Malawi.

Dr. Nitika Pant Pai, of McGill University in Montréal, Canada, combined the results of 21 prior studies of HIV self-testing in what’s known as a systematic review.

She found there was widespread acceptance of self-testing. “People really wanted to. They accepted self-test, and they wanted to complete the self-test.”

Testing in a health-care facility has certain disadvantages. It could take more time, it might cost more, and it risks embarrassment and social stigma.

Self-testing may be more private, but it also has disadvantages. The test kits are made to be easy to use, but they involve taking a saliva or blood sample and carefully following instructions.

Pant Pai said an accurate result depends on following the procedure exactly. And that’s sometimes a problem.

"You know, it always helps to simplify instructions and give instructions ahead of time. And the instructions have to be tailored to the literacy levels of the population.”

The self-test kits are generally very accurate, especially when the test is done with some sort of expert supervision. However, these tests typically look for antibodies - the body’s defense against the HIV invader - rather than the virus itself. And because those antibodies don’t show up immediately after infection, there is a window of time when the test will come back negative.

“But if a person tests himself at 90 days, then the probability of getting a positive results, and a positive result really being a positive result, is really high, which is in the 99-100 percent range,” Pant Pai said.

Only one of the 21 studies Pant Pai examined looked at whether people who tested positive sought counseling, but in that study, 96 percent did. She says there is still a lack of data on whether the use of self-tests actually reduces the spread of HIV. “No, there isn’t any. The data on that is really limited, and those are the next steps that we need to take.”

Many of the studies of HIV self-testing asked participants how much they would pay for a self-test kit. The answers varied, but clustered around $10. Some were willing to pay more. In a study in Kenya, participants, who were health care professionals, generally thought the tests should be free.

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid