OraQuick, a “Do-it-Yourself” HIV test, is readily available on drug-store shelves and it’s the only one approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
OraQuick was available two months ago, but is finally seeing a breakthrough. A previous HIV home test, called Home Access required a person to prick their finger, with a provided spring-loaded lancet, collect a drop of blood on the provided test card, then mail it to a lab and call a week later for the results.
Sounds like a pain, but with OraQuick, there’s no blood involved. OraQuick HIV test is the same rapid test that medical professionals use at testing sites since 2004. You just gently swipe the test swab along your upper gums once and your lower gums once. Then you insert the swab inside the test tube provided and get your results in just 20 minutes. It’s that simple with OraQuick’s HIV test kit.
The at-home HIV test does lose some of its accuracy in the hands of consumers. “The percentage of results that will be accurately positive drops from 99.3 at a testing site to 92.9 when do-it yourselvers test themselves at home. This means that about one person in 12 could get a false negative,” reported 89WLS.
Dr. Myron Cohen, director of the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said, “It’s hard not to be fully enthusiastic about the test. Everything we do to increase testing has to have some degree of benefit. By identifying and treating people early, we preserve normal life span and excellent health and reduce contagion.”
The new home test, which sells for about $40 can also be bought online. “We generally like this thing,” said Dan Tietz, executive director of the research and advocacy group AIDS Community Research Initiative of America, or ACRIA. “It decreases some of the barriers to testing. It kind of puts HIV in front of people, but there’s a bunch of cautions.”
OraSure Technologies has set up toll-free 24/7 bilingual (English-Spanish) customer support lines for those that have questions about the home test. The reps are not certified counselors but have over 160 hours worth of training to answer questions about HIV/AIDS, explain how the test works and what the results mean.
Ron Ticho, senior vice president for corporate communications at OraSure said that the customer support rep can also transfer callers to counseling and care, using the CDC National Prevention Information Network and the HIV Medicine Association. They can also transfer callers directly to a health care professional or agency, if needed.
OraQuick home test cannot be sold to anyone younger than 17, and requires ID, but Dr. Rochelle Walensky, co-director of the Medical Practice Evaluation Center and an AIDS researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston said, “Any availability of any test anywhere is a good thing. Whether this is going to be an epidemic game-changer is where I have to opt out.”
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This means that HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system, decreasing the body’s ability to fight off germs. According to the CDC, today in the U.S. 1.2MM people are infected with HIV. 20% of those infected are unaware of their HIV status. Those undiagnosed 20% are responsible for up to 70% of the new infections each year in the United States.
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