US approves home HIV test kit
US health regulators have approved a home testing kit for HIV, making it the first over-the-counter, self-administered test for the virus that causes Aids.
The Food and Drug Administration gave its green light to the OraSure Technologies OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, which within 20 to 40 minutes provides results from an oral fluid sample taken by swabbing the upper and lower gums inside the mouth.
The company said the test - already approved for use by trained technicians - will be available starting in October at more than 30,000 retailers and online.
The price will be set closer to the launch date, it said.
OraSure, on a conference call with reporters, said it expects the retail price will be slightly higher than the $17.50 it charges for professional use to account for costs associated with packaging, labelling and other support expenses."
“We expect all the major retail outlets to carry this product," Douglas Michels, OraSure's chief executive, said, adding the company hopes to eventually expand the availability of its home HIV test to other countries.
The FDA cautioned that a positive result from the OraQuick test does not mean an individual is definitely infected with HIV, but rather that additional testing should be done in a medical setting to confirm the result.
About 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, but one in five are not aware of it, according to estimates from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
About 50,000 new people are infected with HIV each year, often from people who may not know they have the virus, the FDA said.
An FDA advisory committee of outside experts voted unanimously in favour of the test in May, saying its ability to prevent new HIV infections and link people to medical care and social services outweighed the risk of false results.
Clinical trials for the test showed it was accurate 92 per cent of the time in diagnosing people who had HIV – meaning one out of every 12 test results would be a false negative. False negatives are of particular concern because they could lead HIV-positive individuals to take fewer precautions, raising the danger that they will engage in unprotected sex.
The test accurately gave a negative result for those without HIV in 99.98 per cent of cases, meaning there would be only one false positive result out of every 5,000 tests.