History was made this Tuesday when the FDA gave its stamp of approval to the first ever home HIV test. The OraQuick test will allow individuals to check themselves for the life-altering disease in the privacy of their own homes within roughly 20 minutes, using nothing more than a simple mouth swab.
While this recent development in the prevention of the spread of HIV may seem sudden, OraSure Technologies has apparently been petitioning for the FDA's approval of their swab test since 2005, according to the New York Times.
The amount of time that it has taken to get such a simple test to make its way to drugstore counters is truly astounding. OraSure's website states that over 1.1 million people in the United States are infected with HIV, so it's clear that such a device would make a huge impact in terms of prevention and treatment of the disease. Much like an at-home pregnancy test, OraQuick requires nothing more than a sample of bodily fluid to give fast, effective results. So why has it taken so long to gain federal support?
The Times sheds a bit more light on the issue, revealing that in the past the Center for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned the FDA against providing the public with a means of testing for HIV in their homes, as such a surge in self-diagnosis would surely overwhelm clinics treating the disease.
Regardless of whether or not the CDC's predictions prove true, it simply cannot be argued that the new availability of an at-home HIV testing method will not only encourage a larger group of individuals to seek diagnosis for the disease, but also play a huge role in terms of prevention and early treatment.
Based upon how long it's taken the FDA to approve something as simple as a mouth swab, one can't help but wonder, are there other basic tests the general public is being denied for the sake of "easing the burden" on local health clinics?