Home Testing for HIV/AIDS Now At A Store Near You

You can now test yourself at home to find out whether you are HIV-positive and liable to develop AIDS. The home testing kit, as easy and as private as a home pregnancy test, is a big step forward in the socialization of the once dreaded and deadly sexually transmitted disease.

It is another normalizing stage in the life cycle of AIDS once seen as a social stigma, as well as a death sentence. The testing kit is made by ‘OraSure’ and brand named ‘OraQuick’. As the name implies it is a saliva sample that is needed to give a result after about 30 minutes. This is a big improvement over a previous blood test that required a needle to the thumb and the US mail for delivery to the nearest Laboratory. Of course, the hope is that the privacy and simplicity of the test will lead to many more early diagnoses and further speed up the control over the epidemic that has been raging worldwide for the last three decades.

For patients with a confirmed HIV infection, medication with the latest antiretroviral drugs, reduces the possibility of interpersonal contagion by 96%. Early discreet testing will be vital in the drive for prevention. It is estimated that 1 in 5 of the 1.2 million US citizens infected with HIV are unaware of their condition. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also estimate the rate of new infections to be around 50,000 people per annum.

The new home test has been welcomed by the medical profession because it will get more people into treatment. It has been a long time coming. The Food and Drug Administration have been reviewing the OraSure offering for nearly seven years now. This appears in total keeping with the story of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

AIDS first became prominent in the ‘80s and has always been stigmatized because its roots are in homosexuality, drug addiction and the blood contamination of ‘innocent’ transfusion patients. The simple sensible act of requesting an HIV test was enough to be ‘outed’ as a homosexual or even drug dependent. This, combined with the 100% mortality rate led gay rights activists to advise people to shun the tests until anonymity could be guaranteed.

Alarmist media pundits predicted a peak of suicides if home tests were made universally available. The CDC even predicted a tidal wave of patients at already stretched health clinics. Thus, it was that the home HIV tests bumbled along in a kind of social limbo, going hand in hand with special counseling and written consents, all of which served to add to the evil mystery surrounding the disease.

The new home test is said to be accurate to within 0.02 of 100%, but it will still require confirmation through a doctor. Only 1 patient in 5000 may get a false-positive result, but a possible 1 in 12 could get a false negative. People engaged in what are deemed ‘high risk’ sexual activity should test themselves more often.

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

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