Australia Soon to Have HIV/AIDS Home-Testing Kits

By @ibtimesau on
A man walks past a poster at a conceptual art exhibition about HIV/AIDS. Reuters Files
A man walks past a poster at a conceptual art exhibition about HIV/AIDS. R Reuters

HIV home-testing kits, similar to the pregnancy tests, will soon be made available in Australia after the federal government lifted a ban restricting their manufacture and sale.

The development effectively ensures the immediate availability of the HIV home-testing kits to each and every customer wanting to check themselves against the virus.

Health Minister Peter Dutton said the lifting of the ban was part of the government's 2014-2017 national strategies that seeks to eliminate HIV, hepatitis B and C and sexually transmissible infections (STIs).

The Australian government targets to reduce HIV sexual transmission by 50 per cent by 2015, and totally eliminated by 2020.

"We know that there are Australians living with undiagnosed HIV," Dutton said. "Home self-testing provides an additional testing option that complements current options and allows people living with HIV to learn their HIV status and seek appropriate treatment and support."

John Skerritt, Therapeutic Goods Administration national manager, said the home HIV tests is very much similar to the pregnancy tests bought over-the-counter.

''A small purple band appears to show the antibody is present and you are therefore likely to have HIV. It's like a home pregnancy test,'' he said.

Prior to this development, HIV testing in Australia had always been carried out by a medical practitioner in a clinic.

''As a community we will have to work hard to ensure there is adequate follow up and support for anyone with a positive diagnosis,'' the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Alfred Hospital director of infectious diseases Sharon Lewin.

''Last year there were 1200 new infections across Australia, which is the highest number in the last decade ... so we need to do things differently and part of that is making testing and treatment more accessible.''

Although no pricing has been established for Australia, the HIV home-testing kits sold for about $40 in the U.S.

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