So the United States has approved a do-it-yourself (DIY) HIV home testing kit. The OraQuick In-Home HIV test will be available in a matter of months, allowing people to obtain a result within 20 to 40 minutes.
It was about time, too, given the realities surrounding HIV/Aids as we know them today.
The fact is that HIV/Aids is now the new diabetes – chronic but perfectly manageable. Even in sub-Saharan Africa where health services are as moribund as they will likely kill you merely by visiting them, you now stand a greater chance of dying of malaria or being run over and killed by a wayward motorcyclist on a busy street than of succumbing to HIV melancholia. And that can only be a good thing especially if one considers the sure death sentence HIV/Aids was only 20 years ago.
In 2012, going for an HIV/Aids test no longer requires preparing ropes, suicide pills or razor blades. HIV no longer portends the end of the world it used to and so the American initiative makes perfect sense since it recognizes that it is now more vital for everyone to know their status and seek treatment than to worry about what it might mean for one’s short-term fallibility should a test indeed be positive.
Listening to the American medical personnel who commented on the DIY approval on the BBC, I was dumbfounded when he said that almost a quarter (more than 250,000) of the people carrying the HIV/Aids virus in the USA don’t know their status. If that is the situation in a country where education and basic medical facilities are readily available, imagine what the reality is in the third world where those two elements are a luxury in most communities.
You might hear arguments about the need for counseling to make the reception of the HIV/Aids diagnosis palatable. But I am of the view that counseling is actually useless before one takes the test for the simple reason that it is usually conducted by strangers who cannot impact your decision-making in the few minutes it takes to take the test and find out the results. In that light, pre-testing counseling is overrated, and it works best if the ‘patient’ seeks out the counseling if they feel they need it rather it being foisted on them by a system that has long [erroneously in my view] assumed that counseling is of any benefit before the test is taken.
Therefore, the DIY HIV/Aids kit can’t come fast enough for the entire world.
- HIV/AIDS policies vital for companies (times.co.zm)
- Obama: ‘National HIV Testing Day highlights the importance of HIV testing and the fight against HIV/AIDS’ (miamiherald.typepad.com)
- Vatican Spreads Pro-HIV/AIDS Message By Ignoring Condoms (lezgetreal.com)