Mumbai-based INVEX Health is soon set to launch India's first oral HIV self-test, the company announced on Tuesday.
The saliva-based test named Morcheck is currently the only third generation HIV test that uses oral fluid instead of blood. It tests for both HIV 1 and 2.
HIV-1 was discovered first and is more prevalent worldwide, while HIV-2 is less pathogenic and is mostly confined to West Africa.
Speaking to IANS, Anudesh Goyal, Founder, INVEX Health, said that Morcheck can detect antibodies -- IgG, IgA and IgM -- that are produced in response to HIV infection, allowing for earlier detection of the disease.
IgM peaks earlier than IgG when a person is infected with HIV allowing earlier detection of the infection (3 weeks from infection).
"Morcheck is the only HIV oral self test kit tested and found to be stable and effective in climatic zone 4B conditions in India," Goyal said
The test requires no syringes, lancets or needles and also eliminates risk of needle stick injury.
The oral fluid testing also means higher participation rates, and is ideal for situations where blood samples are difficult to obtain.
Goyal told IANS that Morchek is "awaiting the DCGI approval, which is expected in a month's time".
While several studies (usability and performance related) have already been conducted on the Indian population, the company is also in discussion with the National AIDS Research Institute for the clinical evaluation of the HIV self-test kit in India.
Globally almost half of the countries (98) have included HIV self-testing policies, and one-fourth nations globally (52) are routinely implementing it. However, India is among the countries that have not yet developed a national policy on HIV self testing.
The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS aims that 95 per cent of people living with HIV must know their status, 95 per cent of them should be on antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 95 per cent of these must be virally suppressed.
ART is the treatment for HIV, and involves taking a combination of medicines. While it cannot cure HIV, it can help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives.
In India, as of March 2022, 77 per cent of people living with HIV knew their status, 84 per cent of them were on antiretroviral therapy, and 85 per cent of them had viral suppression. This translates into 55 per cent of total people living with HIV in India being virally suppressed in 2021-22 against the target of 86 per cent of them virally suppressed by 2025-26.
( 431 Words)