Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Developing Countries Need Support To Ethically Conduct Unlinked Anonymous HIV Testing

Date:
January 20, 2009
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Data collected from HIV surveillance are crucial to guide public health interventions, planning, and prevention efforts. But developing countries face several challenges to implementing surveillance programs says researchers.

Data collected from HIV surveillance are crucial to guide public health interventions, planning, and prevention efforts. But developing countries face several challenges to implementing surveillance programs says a team of researchers from the US and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

One form of surveillance that can be particularly challenging to conduct, say Stuart Rennie (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA) and colleagues, is unlinked anonymous testing (UAT), which typically involves using blood that is discarded from specimens collected from patients for routine clinical purposes. UAT commonly does not involve obtaining consent from the person whose discarded blood is tested for HIV. The test is anonymized and unlinked from the person providing the sample and so the results cannot be reported back to patients.

The ethical justification for UAT, they say, includes the usefulness of the surveillance data together with the confidentiality protections afforded by anonymous, unlinked testing; the fact that the residual blood collected for other purposes would be discarded anyway and no one is harmed by its use; and the view that UAT takes place as part of a response to a public health emergency.

While the authors believe that UAT itself is "valuable and ethical," they argue that such surveillance "can be conducted in ethically questionable ways in certain circumstances." They give a series of examples from their own experience in the field, together with guidance on how to improve the conduct of UAT in such circumstances.

One example is that agencies conducting UAT in developing countries, they say, may sometimes collect residual blood from syphilis testing services that they temporarily set up to facilitate HIV surveillance. Such an approach is not in keeping with WHO/UNAIDS guidelines which state that UAT should only be conducted in settings where blood is regularly (not temporarily) collected for other purposes. "If syphilis testing is offered opportunistically to obtain blood for surveillance purposes," say Rennie and colleagues "then the primary purpose of the blood draw is not syphilis testing but surveillance, and consent should be obtained."

The authors outline three strategies to harmonize high quality HIV surveillance with international ethical standards. First, justifications for UAT should be reviewed in local contexts with local stakeholders. "The justifications," they say, "should be directly addressed in surveillance protocols, discussed with local ethics review boards, and communicated in community awareness meetings." Second, one ethical concern surrounding UAT—namely that those whose blood tests positive for HIV do not know their HIV status—could be addressed by providing confidential voluntary testing in close conjunction with UAT activities. Third, gaining local approval for HIV surveillance activities is important, but insufficient—"beyond approval," they say "lies the fundamental ethical requirement to strengthen in-country capacity in epidemiological surveillance, ethics, and health care systems."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rennie et al. Conducting Unlinked Anonymous HIV Surveillance in Developing Countries: Ethical, Epidemiological, and Public Health Concerns. PLoS Medicine, 2009; 6 (1): e4 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000004

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Developing Countries Need Support To Ethically Conduct Unlinked Anonymous HIV Testing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 January 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090120204753.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2009, January 20). Developing Countries Need Support To Ethically Conduct Unlinked Anonymous HIV Testing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090120204753.htm
Public Library of Science. "Developing Countries Need Support To Ethically Conduct Unlinked Anonymous HIV Testing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090120204753.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
EU Ministers and Experts Meet to Discuss Ebola Reponse

EU Ministers and Experts Meet to Discuss Ebola Reponse

AFP (Sep. 15, 2014) The European Commission met on Monday to coordinate aid that the EU can offer to African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. Duration: 00:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite The Risks, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed For Kids

Despite The Risks, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed For Kids

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) A new study finds children are prescribed antibiotics twice as often as is necessary. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins