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

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition 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.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs