"In 2018, 1000 people living with HIV were identified in Luxembourg. It is estimated that only 85% of cases have been diagnosed, bringing the total number of people living with HIV to 1176."
HIV DIAGNOSIS: LABORATORY OR SELF-TESTS?
What is HIV?
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a sexually transmitted and blood-borne virus, which is responsible for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). It causes a chronic infection that cannot be cured in the strict sense, although most patients who undergo proper medical treatment have a near-normal life expectancy.
Due to the absence of symptoms at the beginning of the disease, it is estimated that almost 15% of patients in Luxembourg are unaware that they are HIV positive and can therefore transmit the virus without knowing it to their loved one(s). This is why the earliest possible diagnosis following risk-taking is essential.
How is it diagnosed?
Since HIV was discovered in 1983, the means of diagnosing it have constantly developed, so that the infection can today be diagnosed extremely reliably with a simple blood test in a medical analysis laboratory.
HIV SELF-TESTS: INFORMATION
The appearance of diagnostic self-tests in recent months that are sold in pharmacies and some supermarkets raises many questions in the scientific and medical communities as well as among the general public. Can these self-tests be trusted? What are their limitations? Are they cheaper than laboratory tests?
WHAT IS AN HIV SELF-TEST?
It is a blood test carried out on a drop of blood taken from the fingertip. The interpretation of the result is to be done alone, without assistance from a health care professional on what action to take depending on the result. The cost of a test currently ranges from €20 to €40.
WHAT ARE THEIR LIMITS?
Infections less than 12 weeks old cannot be detected by these devices.
Any positive result must be confirmed by a laboratory test for medical care treatment.
HIV is not the only sexual transmissible infection. Using such self-tests outside a medical consultation entails the risk of missing another potentially serious diagnosis (hepatitis, syphilis...).
Proof of performance
The sensitivity and specificity of these self-tests have never been subjected to independent scientific study.
Particular care must be taken when choosing such devices, as the CE marking in no way constitutes proof of quality. There are actually attempts to introduce some unreliable devices under CE marking on the European market.
|Medical analysis laboratory||HIV self-test|
|Cost||Prescribed treatment||€19 without prescription*||€20 to €40|
|ISO 15189 quality standard|
|Window period**||4 weeks||12 weeks|
|Same day result|
|Confirmation of the result|
|Medical interpretation of the result|
|Comprehensive medical support|
|Confidentiality guaranteed by law|
|Sound scientific evidence|
** Minimum period of time after the date of risk to obtain a reliable result
BENEFITS OF MEDICAL SUPPORT
A falsely negative result obtained through a self-test in an HIV-positive patient with a recent infection can have catastrophic public health consequences. The patient may mistakenly believe that s/he is not infected and may spread the infection to future partners.
The most reliable method of detection is testing in a laboratory whereby the patient can also get professional support and is not alone when told that s/he is HIV positive.
PREVENTION & INFORMATION
IF THE RISK IS LESS THAN 72 HOURS OLD
If the risk is less than 72 hours old: emergency post-exposure prophylaxis treatment, known as PEP, can be started, which greatly reduces the risk of HIV infection. Make an appointment at once with the National Service for Infectious Diseases at the CHL.
The only effective way to protect yourself from HIV is to use a condom.
WHERE TO GET TESTED?
With more than 40 centres and Picken Doheem’s free mobile blood testing service, patients can have a laboratory test at the address of their choice, at a lower cost and with greater reliability than current self-tests.
Medical biologists spare no effort day in and day out to ensure the quality of biological test results expected by governments, doctors and patients through OLAS accreditation according to ISO 15189. Their expertise guarantees reliable biological results with an interpretation adapted to each medical situation.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your GP or your laboratory.
BioneXt LAB / Picken Doheem
Testing at the address of your choice or at a blood screening laboratory
2-4 rue du Château d’Eau
T. 8002 4040 (From outside: +352 285 737-1 )
Hospital Centre of Luxembourg (CHL) round the clock, year round
Department of Infectious Diseases (2nd floor)
4, rue Barblé
HIVBerodung - Croix-Rouge
94, bvd. Patton
2-4, rue Ernie Reitz, Esch/Alzette T. 54 51 51
18, avenue J.F. Kennedy, Ettelbruck T. 81 87 87
6-10, rue de la Fonderie, Luxembourg T. 48 59 76www.planningfamilial.lu