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Self-Testing for HIV Proves Easy and Accurate
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Nov. 2, 2009 (Philadelphia) -- Self-testing for HIV is easy, accurate, and
acceptable to many people, researchers report.
In a new study, more than 99% of HIV results that people obtained via
self-testing matched those obtained by hospital workers.
Participants had no trouble distinguishing between positive and negative
results, says Johns Hopkins researcher Charlotte Gaydos, DrPH.
And nearly everyone said they would "definitely or probably recommend"
self‐testing to a friend and would "probably or definitely" perform a test at
home if it were available, she tells WebMD.
With further study, home testing for HIV might one day be as routine as
pregnancy testing, Gaydos says.
She presented the findings at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases
Society of America.
Self-Test for HIV Proves Accurate
Gaydos and colleagues approached people in the emergency room of a large
city hospital and asked if they would test themselves for HIV while they were
waiting. Nearly 90% gave their consent.
The 402 people who agreed were given a self-test kit with easy-to-understand
instructions that explained how to obtain a blood sample, via pin prick, or a
saliva sample, via mouth swab. More than 90% opted for the latter.
Each participant then put the saliva or blood sample into the provided vial
and within 20 minutes the test offered a reading of positive or negative for
To determine how accurate self-testing was, hospital workers then
readministered the test to each participant. The results matched in 400 of 402
The test works by detecting antibodies against HIV, just like the kits used
by health care workers for routine HIV testing, Gaydos says.
Home HIV tests: The Pros and Cons
Michael Saag, MD, an HIV specialist at the University of Alabama at
Birmingham, says that home testing could help improve early detection of
Early diagnosis means early treatment, which in turn "enables people to live
a relatively normal life span," says Saag, who moderated a news conference to
discuss the findings.
The downside, he says, is the emotional distress one might experience if
faced with a positive result on his own.
"It could be devastating for someone to get a positive test and not know
what to do," Saag says.