The Impact of False-Positive HIV Test Results on Lives
Updated: Dec 12, 2020
By Dr. Hugues Batsielilit, President & CEO of the International Consulting Aid Network (ICAN)
A false-positive HIV test result has been recognized as a failure by healthcare specialists and HIV testing providers to appropriately provide an actual screening outcome to any person willing to know his or her HIV status.
Unfortunately, this is the case in some African countries, where unqualified HIV testing providers have been performing tests and giving out false-positive HIV test results, which have proven to be unnecessarily consequential in challenging the antiretroviral treatment (ART) process. Mistakenly starting ART is acknowledged to be a waste of the drug’s inventory, monthly clinical exam resources, the health care providers’ time, and health center resources. Another factor in this situation is that the rendering of false-positive HIV test results has a further negative impact on placing people’s lives at risk.
False-positive HIV test results are a contributing factor to people being stigmatized, victimized, and outlawed by family members and sometimes entire communities.
False-positive test results enormously diminish the confidence and reliability in HIV testing providers and health services. This lack of confidence significantly concerns hospitals or health centers where the new protocol implemented by the WHO requires the immediate start of ART, notwithstanding the CD4 count or medical evaluation after a person has tested HIV-positive. Without appropriate and strict preventive measures, false-positive results will continue to harm the lives of individuals and complicate the ability to stop the spread of new HIV infections.
To prevent this issue, HIV testing providers should be sufficiently trained and qualified. Training and qualifications should continue to focus on testing knowledge improvement, which has proven to be a significant factor in sustaining and increasing the merit of services. Likewise, the correct use of testing kits, proper guidelines, and strong regulations are necessary contributors.
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