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France

DIY HIV tests go on sale in France

HIV DIY test kit, Autotest VIH
HIV DIY test kit, Autotest VIH AFP/Bertrand Guay

Do-it-yourself HIV tests went on sale in France for the first time on Tuesday as part of the government's plan to reduce the incidence of HIV in the country. French company AAZ's Autotest VIH kits will be available in pharmacies for 25 euros.

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“This does not replace any existing devices. It’s an additional way to fight the spread of HIV,” said Health Minister Marisol Touraine on French TV on Tuesday.

There are approximately 160,000 people living with HIV in France and an estimated 30,000 are unaware of their HIV positive status, according to the health minister.

“Some would like to test but daren’t or don’t want to go to a detection and medical centre,” added Touraine. “It’s better than remaining unaware. Once the test is done, you can go and see a doctor or call an Aids information service.”

There are 7,000-8,000 new HIV contaminations in France each year.

Sixty per cent of them are due to people being unaware of their HIV positive status.

Autotest VIH will not replace existing devices in medical centres because it can only detect antibodies HIV1 and HIV2 after a three-month incubation period in the body,  compared to just six weeks for laboratory tests.

In cases of recent infection, the Autotest could lead to a false negative result.

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