Rose Finlay is a pharmacist in the Totalhealth Pharmacy in Tullamore. Finlay has been urging people who think they may have been exposed to HIV to consult their doctor. The new HIV self-test kit from Pennsylvania-based company, Mylan, has recently been made available to Irish consumers. Using a skin prick test similar to how Diabetic patients test their insulin levels, concerned individuals can now check at home if they have become infected with the virus.
Though the test is highly accurate when used as per the manufacturer’s instructions, Finlay says those who believe they may have been exposed should also consult their doctor.
“You must [leave] a three month period since you think you were exposed to HIV before you do the test and you should consult your doctor as soon as possible. [They] will then perform another test to confirm.”
The number of people diagnosed with HIV in Ireland in 2016 reached a record high of 518 cases. Rates have been rising steadily since 2011, and the number of new infections has rapidly increased in the past three years. It is hoped that the self-test kits can help people to get speedy access to treatment, as strong evidence suggests higher success dealing with HIV the earlier it is diagnosed.
Viral suppression of the disease in Europe is around 65 per cent, and in the Netherlands it is even higher. According to a United Nations programme introduced in 2013, if viral suppression surpasses 90 per cent, the disease could be better controlled. Mylan’s head of infectious diseases, Anil Soni, said this requires the disease being diagnosed at early stage to avoid it spreading.