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An HIV home test was approved for the first time in the United States by the responsible drug agency. A saliva analysis can be used to carry out an “AIDS test” for people suspected of being infected with the virus. Within 30 minutes, testers should be clear about whether an infection has occurred.
After 30 minutes of certainty
Whether pregnancy test, blood pressure measurement or blood sugar test, numerous test products already make it possible to be certain regardless of a doctor's visit. From October of this year, a HI virus test called "OraQuick In-Home HIV Test" is also to be launched in the USA. The US drug agency FDA has already given approval to the pharmaceutical company "OraSure Technologies". In order to be able to carry out the rapid test, the affected saliva must be removed using a swab stick. The stick is then placed in a tube containing a solution. To get a result, another 30 to 40 minutes must pass.
HIV tests showed a high error rate in studies
The HI virus test looks like a commercially available pregnancy test with an additional cotton swab installed. However, the health authorities point out that the "HIV test has a high error rate". During the admission process, it was shown that “roughly every twelfth negative result was wrong.” It may therefore be that despite the indication “HIV negative”, there is an infection with the dangerous AIDS virus. The positive results showed that every five thousandth result is displayed incorrectly. Despite signs of infection, the patient is “HIV negative”. It is therefore advisable "to have every result checked by a doctor in the event of suspicion," said a spokesman for the FDA.
The test should be available in drug stores and pharmacies from October and can be obtained without a prescription. According to the manufacturer, a single self-test should cost around $ 36. A pack with several test tubes is said to cost around $ 60 or € 47, according to the AfP news agency.
No introduction planned in Germany
There will be no Aids self-test in Germany in the near future. In any case, this is the assumption made by the quality assurance officer at Deutsche Aids-Hilfe, Karl Lemmen. In his opinion, such self-tests are not compatible in order to "definitely rule out an infection." The reliability of correct results for the preparation is just 93 percent. A doctor's test has an error rate of less than one percent. The development of such home testers has not progressed far enough to recommend these users. In addition, the "starting point in the US is not comparable to Germany," said Lemmen. In the states there is "a five to eight times higher prevalence of infections and people without health insurance cannot afford the medical examination".
High number of unreported cases of HIV-infected people
The Robert Koch Institute estimates that around 73,000 patients with the HI virus live in Germany. Around 14,000 people do not yet know about their infection. Such a test can hardly adequately clean up the undisclosed figure. Armin Schafberger from Deutsche Aids-Hilfe e.V. explained that such tests at home do not replace a doctor's consultation. In addition, a negative result does not necessarily mean that there is no HIV infection. After an infection, it can take up to three months before the body has formed enough antibodies to detect an infection with such a test. Many people do not know this, but are sufficiently informed about this connection by a doctor.
The pharmaceutical company Oraquick has been trying to make the product ready for the market since 2002. The test has been used by doctors for ten years. For the past seven years, the US regulatory agency FDA has been examining whether a market release is an option.
The "human immunodeficiency virus", abbreviated as "HIV", weakens the human immune system at different stages. A cure is still not possible today, however, modern medicine can slow down with drugs, so that the dangerous AIDS disease occurs late. AIDS leads to a steady breakdown of the immune system, which is why AIDS patients suffer from numerous secondary diseases.
In the United States alone, around 50,000 people are newly infected each year. Around a fifth of those infected sometimes do not know for years that they have contracted the infection and thus transmit the pathogen further. Because there is currently no uniform health insurance in the USA, the test should reach those who shy away from the trip to the doctor for cost reasons, as the manufacturer announced. The product is not a “100 percent test,” the FDA emphasized. If you get a positive result, you should definitely go to the doctor. Negative results, i.e. if no infection is displayed, should be checked with a second test after a delay. (sb)
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