Health Canada is warning Canadians to steer clear of a new website selling home testing kits its makers claim can detect HIV.
The government agency was tipped off to curaherbdistributor.com after someone reported the site because they suspected something was amiss with the company’s trademarked Home Aware brand.
While the website claims to be “fully certified and approved by major bodies,” Health Canada has stressed that the kits have not been approved, and there is no evidence of their safety or reliability. A claim is made that they can be used to test for HIV – as well as hepatitis, syphilis, cancer, dengue fever, and a slew of other diseases and infections – via blood, saliva and urine. Health Canada’s website points out that, while these kits might seem like a godsend, they may deliver false results.
The kits, which are available for both individuals and partners, range in price from about $40 to $250. Some are advertised as being able to detect HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea all at the same time. The site carries seven testimonials from users swearing by the product – all from Australia.
It’s unclear whether the company remains in operation – calls and messages to customer support went unanswered, and the supposedly 24/7 live chat has been offline since Health Canada issued the advisory.
The company claims to have been operative since 2001, maintaining offices in six countries. The site, however, appears to have been launched in 2011. Meanwhile, an Xtra investigation found that the company’s Canadian headquarters – supposedly at 900 Blvd Réne-Lévesque East, in Montreal – might have been made up. A duplex apartment is located at the street address, while the postal code corresponds with Montreal’s Radio-Canada building, six blocks away.
The company’s American address, in Harrington, Delaware, appears equally fraudulent: 455 Brownsville Rd is the address of a cornfield.
The company also maintains a YouTube channel with just one video – audio from a Chris Rock standup show plays over images of the company’s products.
While one home-testing kit has been approved for sale in the US, none have yet made it to Canada. The Food and Drug Administration-approved kit boasts a 92 percent success rate in detecting those carrying HIV.
It's unclear whether any home HIV-testing kits are currently undergoing trials in Canada. Health Canada does not divulge any information on products that have been submitted for approval.