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Home-based kit could increase testing for HIV

A study found that as much as 86% of heterosexuals who are at high risk for HIV would use a home-based test kit provided by mail and 99% would see a doctor based on positive/reactive test results.

CHANGE NEEDED TO CURB HIV SPREAD.

A study found that as much as 86% of heterosexuals who are at high risk for HIV would use a home-based test kit provided by mail and 99% would see a doctor based on positive/reactive test results.

In “Preferences for Home-Based HIV Testing Among Heterosexuals at Increased Risk for HIV/AIDS: New Orleans, Louisiana, 2013”, published in Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, William T. Robinson; Meagan Zarwell; DeAnn Gruber surveyed 470 participants, age 18 and older, as part of the CDC National HIV Behavioral Surveillance of Heterosexuals at Increased Risk for HIV study in 2013.

The researchers found that 85.56% of respondents said they would be willing to take a home-based test if it was mailed to them, and of those, 54.19% said they would return the result back to the provider. Better yet, 99% said they would seek treatment based on a positive/reactive result.

This study is important for a country like the Philippines as it highlights the continuing antiquated approaches in the country.

Here, those who may want to get tested are (usually) given the rapid test first (after a pre-test counseling, as mandated by the Republic Act 8504 or AIDS Law). If the result is non-reactive, it is recommended that they return some three months after their suspected risk exposure for a follow-up test; but if their result is reactive, blood sample is taken from them to be forwarded to the STD/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory (SACCL) of San Lazaro Hospital (in Metro Manila) for a more comprehensive test to be done to confirm the result. This step – the “confirmatory test” – is what ascertains if a person is “positive” or “negative”; and only SACCL is tasked (by law) to pronounce if a person is HIV positive or negative.

The waiting period

Even community-based HIV screening (CBS) – supposedly already faster, with HIV educators going to communities to conduct HIV testing – remains limited because of the need for “HIV experts” who will conduct the HIV test (versus self-testing, as done in the study), access to HIV test kits (with none still widely available in the market), et cetera.

In June 2017, there were 1,013 new HIV positive individuals reported to the HIV/ AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP). From January 1984, when the first case of HIV was reported in the Philippines, until end-June 2017, the cumulative number of Filipinos with HIV already reached 45,023. Also as of June, there are 30 Filipinos who get infected with HIV every day; up from only one per day in 2008, four every day in 2010, nine every day in 2012, 17 every day in 2014 and 26 every day last year.

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