OraQuick — the new over-the-counter, home-based HIV test — is not likely to reduce transmission of the AIDS virus or lower the barriers to care for people infected with the disease, according to a new report by leading AIDS experts.
The report, published online in Annals of Internal Medicine, is not a “game changer” in the fight against HIV, despite the widespread media hype surrounding its availability.
With its high cost, the test is likely to attract primarily affluent consumers at low risk for infection, they concluded. People most at risk for infection, and those with diagnosed HIV seeking to find out if treatment has improved their health, are not likely to use the test or benefit as much.
As a result, the report’s authors — A. David Paltiel, a professor of public health and management sciences at Yale University, and Rochelle Walensky, an associate professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital — said routine screening in doctors’ offices and clinics is the best way to identify and care for the estimated 235,000 Americans who don’t know they are infected with HIV.
They added that home testing is not a substitute for routine HIV screening in a professional healthcare setting.
“A $40 home HIV test is not even likely to make an appreciable dent in the number of undetected HIV infections,” they said. “Rather, it will attract a predominantly affluent clientele composed of persons at low risk for HIV infection, persons with very recent high-risk exposures, and persons with known HIV infection seeking to monitor therapy or to pursue a misperception that treatment has reversed their seropositivity.”
Last July, U.S. regulators approved OraQuick — the first rapid, at-home HIV screening test. The saliva test gives results within 40 minutes without a doctor or laboratory.