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Study showed: HIV self-test can work
Is it advisable to test yourself for HIV, or shouldn't you go to a doctor or the health department? A Canadian study confirms that self-testing can help contain the virus, but German experts remain skeptical. The HIV self-test is not currently being approved in Germany.
Extensive study A study in Montreal, Canada has shown that a self-test at home can be a good alternative to an HIV test in a medical facility. This could be used primarily for reasons of discretion. The results of the study director Nitika Pant Pai from Mc Gill University in Montreal have been published in the specialist journal “PLOS Medicine”. In the process, 21 studies were systematically examined, which examined various HIV self-tests in practice. People who feel discriminated against by testing in medical facilities now have an alternative. Thus, the knowledge of one's own HIV status could restrict the spread of the immunodeficiency virus.
14 of the 21 studies were devoted to HIV self-tests with a total of 4,890 test participants. These were looked after by health experts. The other seven studies analyzed the HIV home tests with a total of 7512 participants. Although they were not given supervision, they could contact a consultant by phone or the Internet.
More data needed for meaningfulness The HIV self-tests, which are done with a little saliva, were preferred by the test participants. The other variant is with a drop of blood, for which you have to stick your fingertip. In both cases you have the result after a few minutes. In general, there was good acceptance, 74 to 96 percent of the people who said they wanted to test themselves did so, and at least 80 percent also approved a test for their partner.
The researchers do write that the self-tests "are fairly precise and only every 500th person who was not infected with HIV incorrectly received a positive test result". But for HIV-infected people, the tests, especially “those without supervision, were much less accurate”. It remained mostly unclear whether the expert hotlines were used for the home tests without supervision. The experts therefore believe that it is “necessary to collect more data”. Holger Rabenau from the National Reference Center for Retroviruses in Frankfurt, which also deals with HIV diagnostics, says: "Such an appeal is often the end of a specialist publication, but it is really appropriate and useful in this context because of the amount of data and the quality of studies were limited ”. The overview study says that there were “no documented suicides” after a self-test, “But maybe there are such cases - only you don't notice anything because nobody knows that someone has done such a test before their suicide” .
Rabenau doubts whether the self-tests really contribute to the fact that more people know about their HIV status. There are estimates that assume that roughly one in two people worldwide does not know whether he or she is HIV positive or not, partly because fear of the result and the subsequent consequences is widespread or because they do not want to know Rabenau. He continues to warn against buying such tests online or from foreign pharmacies.
"With such tests, the quality and therefore the safety may not be as reliable." It is not yet allowed in Germany to "sell self-tests to private individuals".
No chance in Germany In Germany the situation looks a little different anyway and rapid HIV tests are not useful. A while ago, Karl Lemmen, Quality Assurance Officer at Deutsche Aids-Hilfe, said that the "starting position in the USA is not comparable to Germany". In addition, there is "a five to eight times higher prevalence of infections and people without health insurance cannot afford the medical examination". (ad)
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