HIV experts and advocates are calling for the government to approve home testing kits to help get new cases diagnosed faster.

The kits have been available online for several years but have yet to be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, according to SBS News.

Corie Gray from Curtin University’s School of Public Health said home testing kits could be especially useful for people from sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia, who consistently show the highest rates of HIV diagnosis in Australia by region of birth.

Gray said people in these groups often don’t want to raise their concerns with a doctor and are “over-represented when it comes to late diagnoses”.

“We asked them about the barriers to HIV testing for them, and what came out… was that there was a concern around confidentiality when they’re visiting a doctor,” she said.

“They preferred something such as a HIV self-testing kit… or even a home collection kit where they could send a sample to a lab and have that result sent directly back to them.”

Suzy Malhotra of community group Living Positive Victoria said that home test kits have a potential role to play in diagnosing HIV, but counselling and support are critical.

“Home testing is an option. We’re still a way from it being sanctioned completely,” she said.

“I think the priority is ensuring that people have access to services… pre and post test counselling, to know that they’re in a safe environment.

“If a positive test is obtained they can share that and receive support from other peers and people living with HIV.”

More than a quarter of new HIV notifications in Australia are late diagnoses, meaning the person was likely living with HIV for at least four years before being testing.

State and Territory AIDS Councils can provide more information on HIV testing and support.

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