July 10, 2012
OraSure Technologies recently received approval to market its in-home HIV test in the United States, but it will not say whether it is attempting to sell the product in Canada. A company spokesperson told the Star that OraSure is looking to market the product outside the United States, "but no definitive plans have been finalized."
Companies wishing to market medical devices in Canada must submit a license application to Health Canada. Health Canada considers information related to license applications confidential and would not confirm whether the agency had received an application for the test.
The new in-home test, which will be available in 30,000 U.S. retail locations by October, uses a swab to collect saliva from the mouth and can detect HIV antibodies in 20 minutes.
Dr. Mark Wainberg, head of HIV/AIDS research at Lady Davis Institute in Montreal, said he hopes the test will soon be available in Canada. "If people at risk know they are positive, chances are they will practice safer sex than they would if they didn't know and this will protect others and diminish transmissions." He added that it would also encourage people to seek treatment.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, an estimated 65,000 people are living with HIV in Canada, and approximately 16,900 -- or 26 percent -- are unaware of their infection.