Home Self-Testing for HIV: AIDS Exceptionalism Gone Wrong (Issues IN PUBLIC Health) (Report)

Home Self-Testing for HIV: AIDS Exceptionalism Gone Wrong (Issues IN PUBLIC Health) (Report)

Self-tests for HIV in South Africa are currently unregulated. Gaps in law and policy have created a legal loophole where such tests could effectively be sold in supermarkets, but not in pharmacies. At the same time, South Africa lacks an effective regulating mechanism for diagnostic tests, which brings the quality and reliability of all self-tests into question. The authors argue for greater access to, and availability of, quality HIV self-tests. This strategy will encourage regular HIV testing, allay fears about stigma and confidentiality when testing in public facilities, and decrease the costs associated with traditional voluntary counselling and testing, and is likely to lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment of HIV. The South African Medical Association (SAMA) recently warned the public against using HIV self-testing kits. SAMA chairman Norman Mabasa noted that it was ‘risky’ for individuals to test themselves ‘unmonitored’ and that it might lead to devastated patients or suicide. (1-3) These warnings were subsequently echoed by members of the national Department of Health and the Treatment Action Campaign. (4) Objections included questions about the accuracy of the tests, lack of support systems and pre- and post-test counselling, the inability to always be able to confirm the results by a second test, and the dangers of misinterpretation of the results. (1,2,4) SAMA expressed similar objections in 2005 when the supermarket chain store Pick ‘n Pay explored selling self-testing kits for HIV at its outlets. (5) The Pick ‘n Pay launch was subsequently cancelled. (6) Yet, during that time, HIV self-tests were available over the counter (OTC) from a number of pharmacies at prices that ranged from R40 to R60 per test.

Home Self-Testing for HIV: AIDS Exceptionalism Gone Wrong (Issues IN PUBLIC Health) (Report)



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