poz.com - by Tim Horn
Orasure’s oral swab-based rapid in-home HIV test has been recommended for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Blood Products Advisory Committee. If the FDA follows its advisory committee’s recommendation, the Oraquick In-Home HIV Test will be the first complete home-based screening assay for any infectious disease available for purchase over-the-counter (OTC) from pharmacies and internet retailers.
The advisory committee voted unanimously, 17-0, in favor of the test upon being asked two questions: Do the available clinical trial results provide reasonable assurance that the test is safe and effective? And, importantly, do the benefits of in-home HIV testing outweigh the potential risks, notably false negative and false positive results?
The particulars of the second question were hotly discussed throughout the May 15 meeting in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Of concern to the FDA presenters and advisory committee panelists is the test’s reduced sensitivity—its effectiveness at screening for HIV antibodies in those infected with the virus—compared with the professional oral swab OraQuick assay.
However, even with reduced sensitivity, Elliott Cowan, PhD, of the FDA acknowledged, the in-home HIV test is anticipated to have a net public health benefit. "The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test is expected to be associated with a net increase in the number of HIV infections newly identified each year," he said, "with evidence of new infections averted with use of the test."
According to an FDA analysis of available data, in the first year of the test's commercial availability, the OTC test may potentially identify 45,000 people living with HIV in the U.S..
Only one OTC HIV testing kit has been approved by the FDA. The Home Access HIV test, approved in 1996, requires blood samples to be collected at home, followed by shipment to a laboratory for analysis—results are provided by a Home Access telephone operator. The retail price is between $30 and $40.
The OraQuick In-Home HIV Test allows users to collect samples, conduct the test and interpret the results on their own. The test result is read after 20 minutes, but not longer than 40 minutes, after inserting the oral swab device into the vial of developer solution provided with the OTC kit. The price of the test is not yet known, but the company expects it to retail for under $60.
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