HIV home testing trial on the horizon

Executive Director Shaun Robinson told TVNZ Breakfast this morning that NZAF is looking to pilot HIV home tests with on-line and phone support within 12 months.

Following a British announcement that home testing rapid tests are now available in the UK, Shaun said although home testing is ‘a step in the right direction,’ it isn’t the answer to the problem of undiagnosed HIV in New Zealand.

Around one in five Kiwis with HIV are unaware they have contracted the virus and are therefore undiagnosed. Also 50% of HIV diagnosis show people have had the virus for a long time, indicating that people are not testing often enough.

While home testing could increase testing rates, particularly among people who may be reticent to test due to fear of stigma, it has its limitations. Self-testing can be complicated and inaccurate so the need to link people to care and support is critical.

Home testing kits are expensive compared to free testing at NZAF, sexual health centres and GPs. Professional testing also eliminates the risk of an inaccurate result.

NZAF’s first National HIV Testing Month begins on 1 May.