Health-e News: DIY test for HIV comes to a pharmacy near you
For R59.95 South Africans can now purchase an HIV testing kit from a local pharmacy and screen themselves for infection in the privacy of their homes – effectively by-passing the health system altogether.
Although this seems simple, up until late last year pharmacies were prohibited from selling these products despite overwhelming evidence from multiple countries showing that this testing strategy is an efficient addition to national HIV programmes.
One of the reasons it has taken so long for South Africa to get on board is that many have historically raised concerns about the need for counselling when testing for HIV – something that can’t really be enforced when testing at home.
In a radio interview with Redi Tlhabi on Talk Radio 702 last Monday, South African Pharmacy Council Registrar Amos Masango told listeners that, as a compromise, pharmacists need to provide information to people at the point of sale.
This information should include the fact that the take-home kit is only a screening test and can’t be relied on for a final diagnosis – patients need to confirm their results at a health facility. Second, pharmacists need to advise patients practically on how to use the test.