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No fluids before HIV self-test kit use, says WHO

Patients using the new World Health Organisation (WHO) self-testing kit for HIV must not take fluids at least 15 minutes before.

The global health watchdog also said those using the OraQuick HIV Self-Test should ensure they do not use mouth cleaning products, including mouthwash, 30 minutes before the test.

The experts said that that might interfere with the result, adding that the kit must not be used by people who feel nervous when taking an HIV test.

“Most people feel a little bit nervous when taking an HIV test,” said Dr Suzanne Hill, essential medicines and health products director at WHO.

“But, if this happens, one would have to wait until you are calmer to take it, or get tested by your doctor or local clinic.”

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OraQuick is a single-use tool to detect antibodies to Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1) and Type 2 (HIV-2) in oral fluid.

It is intended for use by lay users as a self-test to aid in the diagnosis of infection with the HIV virus.

ORAL FLUID

It can only be used with oral fluid and not blood, serum, breast milk, plasma, semen, urine, vaginal fluid or sweat.

All patients planning to use the kit must remove dental products that cover their gums prior to the oral fluid collection, said WHO.

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The device is placed in the mouth so that the flat pad is between the cheek and the outer gums, then swabbed across the outer gum line.

It is then placed in a tube containing a premeasured amount of solution.

The fluid from the surface of the gums enters the device through the flat pad, then flows onto a test strip. A coloured line forms in the ‘T’ (test) area of the result window if HIV antibodies are detected.

If none is detected, no line forms there. If the test is performed correctly, a line forms in the ‘C’ area of the result window.

The test takes only 20 minutes.

TWENTY MINUTES

Patients have also been advised not to open any of the pouches until they are ready to begin the test and, if the tamper-evident seal is broken or any of the package contents missing, then they should not carry out the test.

Further, the kit should not be used by HIV-positive persons because they are already aware of their status.

“If you have participated in an HIV vaccine clinical trial, you may get a positive result using this test, but it may not mean that you are infected with HIV,” said Dr Hill. “You should seek follow-up with your health facility.”

She continues: “Individuals must have adequate lighting to read a test result. If two lines are present at areas marked ‘T’ and ‘C’ on the test device at any visible intensity, the test result is interpreted as positive.

In addition, the kit must not be used if it has been exposed to household cleaning products, including bleaching agents, or if the seal is opened. It also limits those who are HIV-positive and patients suffering from Hepatitis C and B.

Dr Hill said more studies need to be done to demonstrate the performance of the kit in individuals that are undergoing Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).

Use only with oral fluid not blood, serum, breast milk, semen, vaginal fluid, plasma, urine or sweat.

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