are all self-tests reliable?

They are bought, without a prescription, in pharmacies for 5, 10, 30 and up to 40 euros in order to detect a disease yourself. We now know those for Covid screening (more than 46 million boxes sold in one year). But there are, in fact, self-tests of all kinds. The details of Sylvie Metzelard, editor-in-chief of “60 million consumers”.

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Self-tests exist to detect Covid-19 but also to detect a urinary tract infection, Lyme disease (with ticks which are currently proliferating, many will be sold this summer), HIV, gluten, ovulation, allergies, etc.

According to a report by the Academy of Pharmacy, which questioned the interest of these devices, we cannot really trust them. According to this report, few are relevant and most are useless and can even be… counterproductive. According to experts, only HIV self-tests (provided they are carried out more than three months after the last risk of exposure to the virus) and strips for detecting a urinary tract infection are totally reliable.

The others, it is better to forget. For instance : take the tests to find out your cardiovascular risk (hypercholesterolemia test). To interpret the results, we must then take into account age, symptoms, risk factors and other biomarkers… But who can do it, all alone in their corner, without medical training? Even more problematic, even dangerous, are PSA tests for screening for prostate cancer. A result “falsely” positive or negative can worry – or reassure – wrongly. And it is as much time wasted to treat the disease, if it is really there.

We can mention male fertility tests. They are only based on the concentration of sperm in the semen. Yet a man can be fertile even with very few sperm. Ditto on ovulation tests which are only valid if they are done at the right time of the cycle. However, women who use it, generally, do not have a regular cycle.

Morality: as long as you buy a self-test, it is better to pay for the same analysis in a real laboratory which will not necessarily cost more and whose results can be explained to you by a doctor. Finally, if you want to self-test at home, it is better to choose products with CE marking and not buy them on the internet.

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