Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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Home-based HIV testing: Our response

4
JUL
2012

Aids Alliance

The International HIV/AIDS Alliance welcomes the decision by the US Food and Drug Administration to approve the first over-the-counter HIV test but raised a question mark over what the implications are for countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America where the HIV burden is heaviest.

Executive Director Alvaro Bermejo said: “This exciting new development has the potential to be a real game changer in more affluent societies and an important way to make HIV testing available for more people. We applaud any initiative that opens up opportunities for individuals to know their status as an entry to safer sex counselling, treatment and care.  

“What remains to be seen however is whether home-based testing offers advantages in developing countries where the follow-up healthcare services and support might not be available. There’s so much more to HIV prevention and treatment than taking a simple medical test and nowhere more so than in countries where stigma, discrimination and even criminalisation still prevail.”

The Alliance is committed to engaging communities in the uptake of any intervention that will get people the care that they need earlier, reduce the numbers of people who still do not know their status, and encourage those who are HIV positive and HIV negative to adopt practices to reduce their and/or their sexual partner’s exposure and risk to HIV.

In low and middle income countries, the introduction of a low-cost test could be of benefit for high risk groups who currently have low access to health facilities such as men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs. But we need to put as much emphasis if not more on addressing the social and structural barriers to both prevention and treatment services that have stopped high risk groups and people living with HIV from accessing the services they need.

We need to invest in the combination of interventions that are proven to work and have the biggest impact.