Clinical Practice: Direct-to-consumer genetic testing: To test or not to test, that is the question
In direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing, laboratory-based genetic services are offered directly to the public without an independent healthcare professional being involved. The committee of the Southern African Society for Human Genetics (SASHG) appeals to the public and clinicians to be cautious when considering and interpreting such testing. It is important to stress that currently, the clinical validity and utility of genetic tests for complex multifactorial disorders such as type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases is questionable. The majority of such tests are not scientifically validated and are based on a few preliminary studies. Potential consumers should be aware of the implications of genetic testing that could lead to stigmatisation and discrimination by insurance companies or potential employers of themselves and their family members. Guidelines and recommendations for DTC genetic testing in South Africa (SA) are currently lacking. We provide recommendations that seek to protect consumers and healthcare providers in SA from possible exploitation.