This article written by Ishita Mehta highlights the argument as to why India is against the regulation of HIV Self-test option.
India currently does not permit the HIV self-test option. HIV self-test option helps a person in determining the HIV status at a particular time and place. It just requires a tiny drop of the person’s blood and the result is given within 15 minutes.
The World Health organization has recommended HIV self-test option and it wants to take it for further use so that, there is more knowledge about the HIV treatment and improvement access.
India is a progressive country and though there have been many steps taken by India to make HIV testing accessible and free of cost still, many people are unaware of their status of infection. If they are unaware of the infection, they also have the risk of unknowingly transmitting the disease. Now, the main question is, why do we need HIV self- test option?
HIV Spreading Its Roots All Across
- India needs HIV self–test option because sooner a person gets aware of its infection, the faster he or she will be able to aim at a better treatment to make a livelihood which will be longer and healthier.
- HIV is spreading not only in adults but, there are a major number of children who are getting infected by it. The number of children affected by HIV is increasing every year and that needs to be taken as a major concern. There are people who have been treated for HIV and a few of them are on treatment but a lot of people are still unaware of the infection.
- Spreading awareness is one step nearer to attaining a healthy life. Though India is not in favor of HIV self- test option but, India is weighing the option.
What is HIV Self-Test Option?
Often we wonder, how does the HIV self–test option work? The HIV self-test option is based on HIV antibodies present in our body and our blood samples. Within three months of getting infected, the HIV Self-test option can detect all the antibodies which are present in the body. It is a screening and a blood-based test.
Since a long time we have seen discrimination against HIV-positive people, despite creating a large amount of awareness. Henceforth, leading to more risk of getting HIV infected. According to the World health organization, HIV self-test option is more private so, people don’t have to face any kind of discrimination in their lives due to this.
But, of course, everything comes with its own challenges. Everything needs accuracy and a proper result to bring up a whole function like this. The accuracy level is only up to 93% which doesn’t make it fully reliable. There are possibilities of negative testing also and people should be more aware of it.
Why is India Against HIV Self-Test Option?
India does not allow HIV self-test option currently but it is trying to evaluate a technique where it can find it feasible to evaluate the proposal.
- India is against this policy as they don’t want people to harm themselves after seeing the result positive. There will be more worry if they find themselves positive, which might lead to suicide or any kind of self-harm and anger which can burst out, leading to spread of this disease to some other person. They are also concerned about the scrutiny.
- The qualities of these tests are always under scrutiny. Also, one doesn’t know if the test comes positive but it is actually negative as it is not 100% accurate.
- In Indian hospitals, the tests are also done with card test which is the same as self-test. The government wants to be focused on prevention and not treatment. The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) believes that there are a variety of other tests that can easily show if a person is HIV positive or negative. They say that HIV testing has its own policy as they don’t want it to go wrong.
- They have a policy of both pre-screening and post-screening and thus, they do not want to allow this HIV self-test option as it is against the national treatment guidelines. It might lead to privacy control but, it is a huge barrier to the treatment guidelines.
- There are centers across India where people can go and do a testing about their HIV status. Counseling is always necessary for these kinds of scenarios. The officials believe that after the person is found HIV Positive, the centers provide them with enough information on how to live a healthy and long life. They counsel them with other treatment services that should be done and also provide them healthcare and nutrition facilities. And of course, in case they are found negative they are asked to be on the safer side while performing intercourse.
- Suggestive Read: Human immunodeficiency virus: The self-test option
Major Issue Regarding Non- Regulation Of HIV Self-Test Option In India
Above we read about a few concerns on why India does not want to adopt HIV self-test option. One of the major concern is financial viability.
- Wherever in the world they have launched this program, it has been for free and free funded. But in India, providing it for free is not considered as a viable option. Since India has a huge population, funding can be a major issue here.
- The test cost is around 3000 Rupees which is not economical and cannot be afforded, based on the huge population India has. But, at the clinics, the cost of these card tests, which are the same as the self–tests are of just 100 Rupees.
HIV Self-Testing Method Adopted in India
The commencement of the testing method in India starts with a screening test. This involves two different kinds of tests-
- The Card Test
The first test will be the card test, which is the same as the self-test except that you have to go to the clinic and get it done under a proper supervision.
- The Elisa Test
The second test is the Elisa test. This test is usually done in the bigger hospitals. Elisa generally means that a positive test can be a false test whereas, a negative test is a negative test. After the results of Elisa test are given, there are more screening tests which are taken place if, the result comes out to be positive. At the end, the patient needs to go the PCR for a final confirmatory test.
The confirmation test is necessary for all these patients to take. It doesn’t matter if they have taken a card test or the Elisa test.
What India needs is the awareness, especially to differentiate between AIDS and HIV. Some people think that if they have HIV they are going to die, which is a misconception. The officials have not been able to educate people effectively and therefore they are not able to put a right message for the people.
- HIV is a curable disease if the person is given right medicine at the right time. India needs to be more educated towards this.
- There are so many problems which can erupt out of this. With less awareness, talking about the disease will take much more of a longer time. If people receive an early treatment, there are less likely chances of them to die as compared to people who received late diagnosis.
- Poor co-ordination between the Centre and the State has caused the patient’s life in danger. HIV is a curable disease if people are willing to take the pills throughout their lifetime.
- India needs to educate more people related to the testing and screening methods. The patients need to stop getting demotivated and take a stand. They need to go to the pre-counseling session and the post-counseling sessions too. It will create a lot of difference as at these counseling sessions patients will learn more about how to live their lives, in detail.
HIV self-test option is used to diagnose the deadly disease at the earliest. It is an initiative taken by the UN health organization as people are still missing out on life-saving treatments. This option is put forward just to make people more aware and to educate them about HIV and how it should be treated.
There should be the accurate use of technology for early diagnosis. India will sooner or later definitely adopt this option. This is definitely a better way to reach out to more patients who are unaware of the problems and to the people who are not diagnosed properly.
HIV self-test option is a huge step to promote and empower well-being of the people and to encourage them to take steps to reduce the possibilities of getting infected at the earliest. It is shown in the analysis that men are more likely to attain the disease than women. It is also shown that people who are in a relationship of the same gender, transgender are less likely to attain HIV.
People should start getting themselves tested to maintain a happier livelihood. There are a few people who do not want to get tested just not to face the fear of the status of HIV positive. The public health fight against HIV should be carried on as it is a curable disease and the necessary steps should be taken to treat and prevent the disease at the earliest. These measures should have a positive impact and those who are affected by the disease should get proper help as needed.
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