POZ Exclusives : Revolutionary HIV Tests Needed at Home and Globally - by Michael Schreiber

POZ - Health, Life and HIV
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join

Back to home » POZ Exclusives » July 2012

Most Popular Links
Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

20 Years Ago In POZ

More Web Exclusives

Click here for more news

Have news about HIV? Send press releases, news tips and other announcements to news@poz.com.


July 5, 2012

Revolutionary HIV Tests Needed at Home and Globally

by Michael Schreiber

Op-ed by the managing director of GBCHealth, a coalition of more than 200 companies actively engaged in global health, in response to the approval of rapid in-home HIV tests.

Don BlanchonIt was once considered a stretch of the imagination to be able to take an HIV test in the privacy of one’s own home and to receive the results almost immediately. Now, those at risk— or who think they may be at risk— will be able to find out their HIV status using an over-the-counter testing kit that gives results in just 20 minutes.

This week the Food and Drug Administration approved a revolutionary new in-home HIV test. Beginning in October, people can buy a simple, oral swab test from their drugstore or online and learn with 99.9 percent accuracy if they’re HIV-free and, with 92 percent accuracy, if they’re HIV positive.

This groundbreaking technology provides an unprecedented opportunity to expand access to HIV testing nationwide and to better reach those 20 percent of people with HIV who don’t know they have the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who don’t know their HIV status are responsible for up to 70 percent of the 50,000 new infections in this country each year.

But in many parts of the world, the HIV testing problem is even more dire. Globally, more than half of the 34 million people living with HIV don’t know they have it.  A recent national study in Kenya showed that only 16 percent of HIV-positive adults knew that they were infected.  They need easy-to-use, accessible solutions that produce fast results, especially as the fear of stigma often keeps people away from testing clinics. Edwin Cameron, Justice of the Constitutional Court in South Africa who has publicly stated that he has HIV, advocates home testing and says knowing your HIV status “simply ought to be part of your life.”

Expanding access to HIV testing is a key focus of my organization, GBCHealth, a coalition of more than 200 companies engaged in global health, of which OraSure Technologies, Inc., the maker of the OraQuick home-HIV test, is a member. Formerly the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, we were founded in 2001 by the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, with the sole purpose of galvanizing the business fight against the exploding AIDS epidemic.

Companies, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa that experienced deaths, absenteeism and loss of productivity due to astronomical rates of HIV, mounted prevention and education programs for their workers, their families and communities. They offered free HIV testing and access to treatment, which was rarely available via the public sector at the time. And 100 prominent CEOs signed a World AIDS Day 2008 pledge vowing that their companies would not discriminate against workers with HIV, which deters people from getting tested in the first place.

Holbrooke was passionate about HIV testing. “If ever an ounce of prevention was worth a pound of cure, this is the case, since HIV lives undetected in people for about eight years before it explodes into full-blown AIDS,” he said in 2007. “[They] unintentionally spread the virus for those eight years -- to their wives, lovers, people with whom they share dirty hypodermic needles, almost anyone.”

The OraQuick test has the potential to dramatically increase the number of people in the United States who know their HIV status. After all, “There are more Walmarts on the streets than clinics,” remarked Randy Mayer, the HIV, STD and Hepatitis Bureau Chief of the Iowa Department of Public Health. The kit will allow those who test positive to take extra precautions to prevent passing the virus on to others and to seek antiretroviral (ARV) treatment as soon as they need it— as recent studies have shown that ARVs can lower the chance of transmission by as much as 96 percent.

In today’s climate of federal HIV funding cuts, we need as many effective tools as possible to reach those most at risk. The home-HIV testing kit from a small company affirms our belief in the power of business to introduce innovative, game-changing products that generate social returns as powerful as their market potential.

This new home HIV test is a giant leap forward toward improving access to testing in the U.S. To get there globally, we call on companies to work with governments and non-profits toward achieving similar groundbreaking progress in meeting the world’s urgent HIV-testing needs. As a UNAIDS report put it, “HIV testing must become simple and as ubiquitous as home-based pregnancy test kits.”

Search: Michael Schreiber, GBCHealth, testing

Scroll down to comment on this story.


(will display; 2-50 characters)


(will NOT display)


(will display; optional)

Comment (500 characters left):

(Note: The POZ team reviews all comments before they are posted. Please do not include either ":" or "@" in your comment. The opinions expressed by people providing comments are theirs alone. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Smart + Strong, which is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by people providing comments.)

Comments require captcha.
Please enter this number for verification:

| Posting Rules

Hide comments

Previous Comments:

  comments 1 - 3 (of 3 total)    

Putuli, Boston, 2012-07-09 14:17:29
What a great article by GBC Health, it summarizes so well the wonderful progress made by your organization and others to address this deadly disease. Holbrooke's commitment and passion is conveyed in this great article, and we hope that your partner companies will heed his call and act on it generously. Great job updating the progress made and summarizing such an optimistic outlook for us all.

Frederick Wright, Coachella Valley, 2012-07-07 11:21:36
Mr. Schreiber I could not agree with you more in how important this new American made product is for our Global Communities and improvement to overalls global health. I like to thank GBChealth, including OraSure Technolgies for supporting global heath issues and the charity in commerence for HIV people. I was wondering if you and your group would support the Robin Hood Tax directed at Wall Street being proposed for our 2013 congress. This emergency funding is needed to support Global Health.

Tony, , 2012-07-05 22:23:59
I swear, AIDS INC would sell us cyanide and promise to help us see a more manageable world if the bribes were generous enough.

comments 1 - 3 (of 3 total)    

[Go to top]

Facebook Twitter Google+ MySpace YouTube Tumblr Flickr Instagram
Quick Links
Current Issue

HIV Testing
Safer Sex
Find a Date
Newly Diagnosed
HIV 101
Disclosing Your Status
Starting Treatment
Help Paying for Meds
Search for the Cure
POZ Stories
POZ Opinion
POZ Exclusives
Read the Blogs
Visit the Forums
Job Listings
Events Calendar
POZ on Twitter

Ask POZ Pharmacist

Talk to Us
Did you participate in an event for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day 2016?


more surveys
Contact Us
We welcome your comments!
[ about Smart + Strong | about POZ | POZ advisory board | partner links | advertising policy | advertise/contact us | site map]
© 2016 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.