FTC seeks to halt sales of allegedly defective HIV test
The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday sought a court order to halt the U.S. sales of an HIV antibody test on two Web sites that the agency says gives inaccurate results, MSNBC.com reports. Thousands of U.S. consumers have purchased the Discreet HIV antibody test kits from two Vancouver, Canada-based Web sites--www.AIDSHIVTest.com and Discreettest.com. FTC investigators and scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the test doesn't work and commonly gives false positive or false negative results.
Gregory Stephen Wong, who operates the Canada-based Web sites, says lab tests show that the kits are more than 99% accurate, but he refused to provide proof of the lab tests or any other research data on the HIV test kits. The Web sites selling the kits claim they can produce results in about five minutes at home, but AIDS experts say no Food and Drug Administration-approved rapid home HIV antibody tests exist. FTC officials say their tests showed the Discreet HIV antibody tests to be wildly inaccurate.
The FTC is seeking a court order to block the sale of the test to U.S. consumers and has asked the U.S. Customs Service and international shippers to confiscate any packages from the Web sites being sent to American buyers. "This is a really scary thing," FTC attorney Janet Evans told MSNBC.com. "That's why we felt we needed to bring all the guns out. Anyone who has used this kit in the past should get another test done immediately." At least 3,000 of the test kits were shipped to the United States by Federal Express in 2003, and it's likely tens of thousands more were used by U.S. consumers since going on sale in June 2001. Wong says he plans to stop marketing the tests to U.S. consumers via the Web sites because of pressure from the U.S. government, not because the tests don't work.