Rapid HIV and Hep C tests available in Iceland for the first time
Website GayIceland reports that in the next few weeks, quick and easy tests will be available for HIV and Hepatitis C. This is part of an incentive to eliminate Hepatitis C from Iceland.
Ragnheiður Hulda Friðriksdóttir is a project manager of a Hepatitis C treatment campaign that aims to diagnose all Hep C infected individuals in Iceland in order to treat them. Interviewed by GayIceland she says,
“These tests, from OraSure, are very easy to use but need to be carried out by professionals. It only takes a quick mouth swab and the results are ready 20 minutes later. It is estimated that between 800 and 1000 people are infected of Hepatitis C in Iceland and we believe that 80 percent of them have already been diagnosed so we want to find the rest of them so we can help them. The ultimate goal is of course to eliminate Hepatitis C from Iceland but that’s perhaps too optimistic a dream.”
Ragnheiður explains that both HIV and Hepatitis C are transmitted in the same way, by unclean syringe needles or sexual contact, especially between two men, so the tests will be used to skim for both viruses at the same time.
She says that the tests have over 90 percent accuracy and obviously the diagnosis will always need to be confirmed with a blood test. “That’s why health authorities have made it a condition that medical professionals carry out the tests, because those who receive positive results will receive further counselling and start a treatment immediately. Thankfully, Hepatitis can now be treated and HIV can be contained with medication so it’s very important to find those infected as early as possible.”