This year’s theme of the 2nd Biennial South African HIV Clinicians Society Conference was ‘Excelling in Clinical Care’, which saw local and international speakers address an array of HIV issues including the latest on treatment, prevention, basic science and ethics.
On the second day of the conference, Atomo Diagnostics hosted a debate around self-testing for HIV. Debate participants included Professor and Director of the Wits Centre for Ethics, Lucy Allais; Executive Manager for Metropolitan Health Risk Management’s YourLife Programme, Siraaj Adams; and Director of iTeach, Dr Krista Dong.
Allais kicked-off the session addressing social concerns around self-testing and asked the question, ‘Should tests be licensed for individual purposes?’ Allais said that private purchase highlights the importance of individuals being able to test themselves and said that the fact that tests are not licensed for private sale limits individuals from testing for HIV infection in the privacy of their own home. Allais emphasised the importance of accuracy, reliability and ease-of-use of the preferred test used and added that we should not compare counselling for HIV to the world’s ideal standard of counselling.
Dong addressed the issue of self-testing from a clinician’s point of view and spoke to whether or not self-testing is right for the South African market. She highlighted that there are still many individuals who are not being reached and self-testing could be the answer to scaling up testing or opening up channels to reach those individuals who have not yet been tested.
Adams ended the debate saying that public and private partnerships need to be extended in order to reach larger audiences and to ensure healthcare providers have direct links to patients that require care.
The Southern African HIV Clinicians Society (SAHIVSOC) has been promoting evidence-based quality, HIV healthcare in Southern Africa for a number of decades. SAHIVSOC’s membership includes doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals working in the field of HIV. President of The Society, Dr Francesca Conradie said, “We hope that the 2014 conference will further enlighten delegates and equip them to be a better HIV Clinician.”
Atomo Diagnostics is the developer of the award-winning AtomoRapidTM HIV test. The test recently won ‘Best in Show at the 17th International Medical Design Excellence Awards (MDEA) due to its ease of use, accuracy and reliability. Currently the team is exploring the possibility of bringing an HIV self-test to the South African consumer market in an effort to curb the spread of the virus and enable access to testing for more South Africans.