While most people have to be forced by life insurers to undergo HIV/AIDS tests people in rural areas near Mtubatuba are voluntarily being tested in their homes. This was revealed by Tanya Welz of the Africa Centre (AC) at an international HIV/AIDS conference that was held by her organisation in the town over the weekend. Welz said the new home-based testing centres were piloted in two villages, Mahujini and KwaMyeki. They were a huge success and the AC now intends to hold them in other centres in KwaZulu-Natal. The test, which Welz described as very simple, involves a prick of a finger to get a blood sample to be analysed. Trained AC personnel who are based in the communities conduct the tests. In an innovative move, the AC had devised a method that used a combination of a scratch card and a pin number to keep the result secret, said Welz. The home-based testing centres are also able to measure blood pressure, height and weight. She said that testing a large volume of adults would help researchers get a better idea of how many people had been infected with the virus. This knowledge would in turn help the government to plan for the future needs of people with HIV. We have received overwhelming support and co-operation from the two communities, said Welz.(Source: Thabo Thulo: Sowetan, 7 April 2003)
The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) this week allayed fears that HIV/AIDS tests in Africa were inaccurate. Dr Tim Tucker, a virologist at the SAMRC, was responding to a recently-published article that claimed there was an 83% chance that the HIV test mechanism in Africa - called Enzyme-Linked Immuno-Sorbent Assay (Elisa) would produce false results. The article was based on research conducted by a fifth-year medical student at Bristol University in Britain, Mukai Chimuterngwende-Gordon. Tucker said the Elisa test was very accurate and branded the writer and publishers of the article AIDS denialists.He added that, while antiretroviral drugs had side effects, they did have a meaningful impact on improving the quality of life of infected individuals. According to Chimuterngwende-Gordon, HIV testing in developed countries includes the Elisa method and what is known as the Western Blot test, while in Africa the test consists of Elisa only, which she claims makes it inaccurate. She says African states use the Elisa because they lack resources. Her article, which first appeared in the November issue of New Africa and later in Sowetan, left many readers questioning the accuracy of HIV/AIDS statistics in Africa.(Source: Cecil Motsepe, Sowetan, 20 December 2002)
New technology has been developed for detecting syphilis, which has been found to detect previously undiagnosed syphilis cases. This has raised concerns, especially in light of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.