Ethical Questions Surround New At-Home HIV Test

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This week an advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously to recommend the approval of the first-ever rapid, over-the-counter, completely in-home HIV test. Though the FDA has approved other HIV test kits designed for at-home use in the past, those tests require a blood sample that must be sent in to a laboratory for development. The newly considered test kit — called the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test — simply requires a mouth swab and a 20-minute wait for results.

It’s estimated that approximately one-fifth of the 1.2 million HIV carriers in the United States are unaware of their infection, and advocates of OraQuick say the test would provide a new and powerful attack against the American HIV epidemic.

Art Caplan, a regular guest on The Takeaway, discusses whether this test kit is a game-changer in the fight against HIV/AIDS and whether the kit’s benefits outweigh the ethical holes facing home-testing. Caplan is a professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.