B.C. lab offers DIY HIV test kit

People can now test themselves for HIV in the comfort and privacy of their own homes with a new single-use, disposable test kit developed by bioLytical Laboratories.

The Richmond, B.C.-based rapid infectious disease test maker has been introducing it INSTI HIV Self Test in several jurisdiction over the past few months and has recently launched it last week in the Netherlands.

The launch in the Netherlands commenced last week with 20 HIV-specialized pharmacies and further penetration throughout the country is expected to all 1,900 pharmacies.

Using a single drop of blood, the INSTI HIV Self Test is more than 99 per cent accurate and provides a result in as little as 15 to 20 minutes. By comparison, it can take several days or weeks to get back test results from a laboratory, the company said.

INSTI is an over-the-counter adaptation of the INSTI point-of-care test which has been used by healthcare professionals in Europe for over 10 years.

“We saw the need to provide a solution that would empower individuals to take control of their health in a discrete way, and within the comfort of their own home,” said Robert Mackie, bioLytical’s president.  “By launching in the Netherlands, we are able to make HIV testing more accessible and to diagnose those unreachable through current programs.”

Beginning in April this year, the kit was launched successively in Belgium, Kenya, and the United Kingdom.

It is estimated that one in seven people are not aware that they are infected with HIV.

HIV testing is the foundation of the UNAIDS 90-90-90 initiative, which aims that by 2020, 90 per cent of those living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90 per cent of those individuals will be on antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 90 per cent of individuals on ART will be virologically suppressed.

Just achieving the first 90 is a major undertaking.

As of 2014, of the estimated 2.5 million people in the World Health Organization (WHO) European Region living with HIV, approximately half were not even aware of their status.

Amsterdam has made great achievements in the elimination of HIV and is one of the first European cities that have reached the UN targets.

In the latest report published by UNAIDS, Amsterdam is 94-90-94. With the availability of HIV tests in pharmacies, the Netherlands can strive for 100-100-100.

There are several options available for getting tested, but having access to a very simple yet highly accurate test, according to bioLytical, allows people to test themselves without having to make an appointment at a laboratory, hospital or clinic.

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