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Pharmacists applaud HIV home testing kits

Pharmacy Guild
Photo: The Pharmacy Guild welcomes HIV home self-test kit
Australians will soon be able to purchase HIV home testing kits and access treatment at local pharmacies, in a move pharmacists have welcomed.

The nation’s peak body for community pharmacy, The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, has applauded the Federal Government’s announcement that it’s removed the restriction that prevented the manufacture and sale of HIV home self-tests.

Dispensing arrangements for HIV therapies will also be changed as part of the government’s plan to increase early diagnosis of the virus.

With figures showing 35,000 people live with HIV in Australia, the government has also launched a new HIV strategy that highlights a goal to virtually eradicate new HIV infections by 2020.

The Guild acting president John Dowling said the move to make in vitro diagnostic devices (IVDs) for self-testing for HIV available was a step forward.

“This better reflects the desire of many Australians to receive care in the community, at their local pharmacy, rather than in a hospital,” he said.

The Guild has recommended all HIV testing kits sold in Australia feature contact numbers for HIV support services and counselling telephone hotlines on their packaging, in the event consumers discover they are HIV positive.

Health Minister Peter Dutton said there are Australians living with undiagnosed HIV.

“Home self-testing provides an additional testing option that complements current options and allows people living with HIV to learn their HIV status and seek appropriate treatment and support,” he said in a statement.

“It also overcomes some of the common concerns people have about receiving the test in a medical setting and gives them more choice.
“The early diagnosis of HIV is critical to supporting Australians living with the condition to get the treatment they need sooner and to stop its spread.”

Mr Dutton said companies can now apply to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for approval to supply their test kits.

If they meet Australian standards and are approved, the test kits will then be able to be sold direct to consumers.

Mr Dutton said amendments will be made to the prescribing and dispensing arrangements for Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme subsidised HIV antiretroviral therapies from July 1, 2015.

“Previously, patients were restricted in where they could access these medicines,” he said.

“The changes mean that these medicines can now be dispensed through a pharmacy of the patient’s choice, including community pharmacies, regardless of where they were prescribed.”

The initiative is one of five national strategies that were announced, designed to target HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, STIs and a strategy focusing on blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections in the Indigenous community.


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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords