Aids ribbon 311.
(photo credit: Thinkstock)
Although an expert panel of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week
recommended the first over-the-counter home test for HIV/AIDS, the Health
Ministry is unlikely to approve it for use in Israel anytime soon.
the years, the Health Ministry has insisted that in health fund clinics and
public hospitals’ AIDS centers, the individual must identify himself before
undergoing a test for HIV/AIDS. It has allowed some voluntary organizations,
especially those involving homosexuals and foreign workers, to undergo HIV tests
anonymously, but it has not encouraged it.
One of the ministry’s main
fears is that, if an individual learns that he is an HIV carrier or has
full-blown AIDS, he could react badly and even commit suicide.
concern is that without the authorities knowing who the carrier is, it would be
nearly impossible to prevent him, as health professionals generally do by
providing information and condoms, from spreading the disease to
Therefore, so far, the ministry has not approved home tests.
Instead, people who worry about the disease are advised to “undergo speedy
tests” in recognized institutions.
The Washington Post reported this week
that the FDA panel voted unanimously to recommend approval and sale of a kit
that can be used in the privacy of people’s homes.
Such a test does not
require a blood sample but only a swab of saliva in the mouth to determine
whether antibodies to the AIDS virus are present. The result is ready in less
than half an hour.
The US health authorities said the new home test could
be very effective in helping to prevent new HIV infections.
Washington Post quoted Richard Forshee, associate director for research in the
FDA’s office of biostatistics and epidemiology, as saying that the test could
potentially identify 45,000 new individuals who are infected and avert more than
4,000 HIV transmissions annually in the US. However, Forshee said that since the
test is only about 93 percent accurate, it would also miss approximately 3,800
HIV-positive people per year.
The home test kit is virtually the same as
that used in medical institutions, but when in the hands of trained
professionals, it is said to produce more accurate results. In any cases, all
HIV tests require another, more complicated test to confirm the diagnosis.