At-Home HIV Test Could Have Dangerous Results

OraSure Technologies Inc. (OSUR), is the first at-home HIV test that lets people get HIV results without seeing a doctor or visiting a laboratory; it should not be sold without a prescription.

On Tuesday, the U.S. regulatory advisers backed the bid to bring the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test on the market, and the Food and Drug Administration is expected to make a decision on its approval within months. That is good news for the marketers and manufacturers of the product, but for consumers it is a life and death matter that should not be taken lightly.

Counseling before and after an HIV test is very important because not only does it provide critical information about HIV and AIDS, but it also gives life saving options after one gets tested. The counseling services can only be accessed from qualified professionals. Home testing is a big no-no. OraQuick should only be used by people who have previously undergone counseling and it must be prescribed by a counselor.

The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test offers results within 20 minutes and would be sold without a prescription. If approved, sales of the test may be $20 million next year assuming the estimated $40 price tag. Today’s share gain pushed the market value of OraSure to $581.4 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

It is true that a lot of people shun the traditional HIV test because the wait for the results can be very stressful. The at-home kit may seem like a better option but one should always remember that you will need to deal with the consequences of the diagnoses after those 20 minutes. Everyone has a breaking point and a positive HIV result could trigger someone to do something stupid, like willful infection of others.

 On the other hand, perhaps Frank Oldham, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of People with AIDS, based in Silver Spring, Maryland is right when he says “it is essential that we bring more tests to market. We need more weapons to reduce HIV infections. We need tests that can be easily taken and are easily available.” 

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Mutale Pamela Kapekele

I am a Zambian Business Reporter and Blogger with experience in reporting Africa, Business and Health.

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