HIV rapid test kits now in stores

HIV rapid test kits now in stores

HIV rapid test kits for home use are now available to be sold over the counter, the Department of Disease Control (DDC) said.

"The Food and Drug Administration has approved two types of the home use HIV test kits for sale at pharmacies: the blood and saliva testing types," said Dr Preecha Prempree, deputy director-general of the DDC.

"The result of the blood test is known in one minute, while that of the saliva test is known in 20 minutes." Dr Preecha said the test kits are available at most pharmacies, which should improve public access to HIV testing particularly during the Covid-9 outbreak.

Allowing HIV self-testing is part of the DDC's nine-year plan to curb new HIV infections, deaths and stigma attached to HIV infection, he said. Thailand has set a target where the number of deaths from HIV/Aids should not exceed 4,000 per year and stigma attached to HIV should be "cut by 90%" by the year 2030. Last year Thailand recorded 4,855 deaths from HIV/Aids, he said.

The country has come up with a plan to improve access to HIV testing, particularly among at-risk groups, and rapid test kits are seen as an effective tool to get people tested for HIV so that they know their infection status sooner, he said.

A confirmation test is required and will be conducted at a healthcare facility in case the rapid test comes back positive.

Over the past four decades, 37.7 million people worldwide have been infected with HIV, 36 million of whom have died, said Dr Cheewanant Lertpiriyasuwat, director of the Bureau of Aids, Tuberculosis and Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Drugs developed for saving the lives of HIV-infected people are now more advanced while HIV vaccine development still is under way, she said, adding the use of condoms when having sex still is the most effective means in HIV infection protection.

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