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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population 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.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid