- The Ugandan government has approved for distribution a new HIV test, which is based on urine samples and does not acquire educated health personnel. The approval could ease Ugandan efforts in HIV testing and reducing unsafe sexual behaviour, while providing large revenues for the US producer.
The government of Uganda has announced that urine testing is now approved for importation and distribution in the country. The so-called 'HIV-1 Antibody Tests' produced by the US-based Calypte Biomedical Corporation thus immediately will be sold in Uganda.
Uganda's Vidas National Research Institute has determined that sufficient testing has shown that Calypte's urine based testing is approved for importation and subsequent distribution in Uganda. Dr Benon Biaryahwawo, Director of the research institute today issued a letter, outlining the approval and stated that the government of Uganda is now prepared to work with Calypte Biomedical to secure contracts for the immediate purchase and subsequent importation of the urine based HIV/AIDS test into Uganda.
The urine based HIV/AIDS test was first presented in Africa during the 13th International AIDS Conference last month in Durban, South Africa, in year 2000. Calypte and its distribution partners American Edge and African Medical Solutions (AMS) then announced their plan to extend their HIV testing innovation to more than 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Significant advantages of Calypte's urine HIV-1 antibody tests are that unlike blood samples, urine samples can be obtained by non-medical professionals, have a longer shelf life, are not considered hazardous and require no refrigeration, the US company claims. "An additional advantage of urine testing over blood is that urine does not appear to harbour the infectious virus itself."
This greater ease in HIV testing has been seen as an important step in persuading Africans to take a HIV test. HIV testing campaigns and accompanied counselling also has proven to raise risk awareness and, according to some studies, subsequently have lowered the rate of HIV new infections.
Calypte's HIV testing product is however marketed at a completely commercial manner, according to what the company's Executive Chairman. Tony Cataldo, calls "its aggressive business plan". A statement by the company today informed potential investors of the enormous resources Uganda spends annually in its battle against AIDS.
Jay Oyakawa, President of Calypte stated he was "pleased" that Uganda had taken this position on the company's product. "Calypte is committed to continue to work with agencies, foundations and governments throughout the world to expand the distribution of our HIV-1 antibody urine based tests," Oyakawa added.
The company's statement did not mention how its products were to be priced in the Ugandan market or whether it had found any sponsors to provide the test to the impoverished nation. Generally, the prices of essential drugs are known to by significantly higher in poor countries than in developed countries. On occasions, Calypte's urine HIV-1 antibody tests have been provided freely in the United States.
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