Investigation launched into DIY HIV test web site

The Medical Products Agency in Sweden, Läkemedelsverket, is investigating a Swedish website which sells DIY HIV-tests which are not approved by the European Union. According to the website, fifteen minutes is all it takes to get the result.

The website also sells DIY tests for hepatitis c, allergies, glandular fever and cholesterol, noted Dagens Nyheter. The test for cholesterol is the only one approved by the European Union.

Gert Bruse, who is a handling officer at the Medical Products Agency in Sweden, only knows of one DIY HIV-test that has been approved for home use – in the United States.

“Tests for HIV and hepatitis are tests that should be of a higher quality. They are complicated,” said Bruse to Svenska Dagbladet.

The products come from a company in Holland and are delivered directly to your mailbox. The website is planning to increase their selection of tests and the owner told DN that the HIV-test will be approved by the European Union shortly. He also stated that there is no difference between their tests and the one used in hospitals.

Johan Giesecke, an epidemiologist, said he thinks that it is a positive outcome that an increasing number of people are testing themselves for HIV. But he warned of the risks of performing a test of this kind outside of the medical service.

“The disadvantage with a DIY HIV-test is that you don’t know how safe the test is. It could show that you are not infected while you are and that is very serious,” said Giesecke.

Göran Bratt, chief doctor at the HIV clinic Venhälsan in Stockholm also saw problems with the DIY test. Being alone when the result shows that you have been infected is the first problem.

“In a situation like that, people can react differently,” said Bratt to SvD.

“Run to the phone and call for help is what anyone should do. But people can panic and in worst cases, commit suicide or just not deal with it.”

Another problem includes couples performing the test and then choosing not to use a condom when having sex.

That poses a major risk, since it takes up to three months for someone to test positive on the HIV-test. Bratt’s recommendation is that people get help in hospitals to perform the test so they can get the support of professionals if that is the case.