oraquick HIV test

An at-home HIV test now available in U.S.

Diseases, Infectious Disease, Sexuality

In many ways Brazil has been at the forefront of the fight against AIDS, but the U.S. has done a better job of making HIV testing easy. In 2002, public health facilities there started to make available the 20 minute result, using only an oral swab; a blood sample not required.

Just last year, Brazil started to offer a 20 minute quick test result (though using a drop of blood rather than an oral swab), but the U.S has just jumped ahead again in HIV testing. The OraQuick InHome HIV Test Kit has started to go on sale in the U.S., so individuals can test them selves privately at home, suing the simple oral swab technique with 20 minute results. No blood test, no doctor required.

Each home test kit costs about $40,  and the manufacturer is making available a 24 hour hotline, manned by trained bilingual (English and Spanish) operators, so that worried test takers and those testing positive can call and get counseling.

This home test uses the same technology and process used in public health and doctors’ offices since 2002, where the test was found to be nearly 100 accurate. For the home test however, it is anticipated that the test will be slightly less accurate, as some people might not perfor m the test properly.

As the New York Times notes in a recent article:

The OraQuick test is imperfect. It is nearly 100 percent accurate when it indicates that someone is not infected and, in fact, is not. But it is only about 93 percent accurate when it says that someone is not infected and the person actually does have the virus, though the body is not yet producing the antibodies that the test detects.

The OraSure test detects antibodies to the HIV virus, and when a person just becomes infected,  it may take a month or more for the body to produce enough antibodies so that their level is high enough to be detected by the test. So early on in an HIV infection, the person will be contagious to others (since they have the virus in their blood and secretions) but since they haven’t produced enough antibodies, the test result will look like they are not infected. Only a month or two later will the OraSure or any antibody test turn positive.

The U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has raised concerns that some people, if they see that their home test is negative (normal), might dispense with the precautions of using condoms, and that might be a mistake (if the test is falsely normal). Further, not using condoms exposes a partner to potential SDTs, such as gonorrhea.  So the best recommendation is to use safe sex practices no matter what the result shows.

The October 5 New York Times mentions that it’s likely many people will start to suggest the test for potential sexual partners as well on themselves. Likely this is, at least at first, going to be a very sensitive topic to bring up to a sexual partner.  Pre-sales studies have shown some potential partners refuse to be tested, and some just walk out when a test is suggested. A majority of sexaul partners, however, were receptive to the idea.

Overall, despite the fact that the home test is not perfect, and not terribly cheap at this point, it it felt that more people being tested is good for the public health, and that while home testing is not yet common, it will inevitably become more widespread.  While just now available in the U.S, we will keep you updated when and if the home test becomes available in Brazil…

Should you want to find a doctor anywhere in Brazil, you can do so on our main website: www.procuramed.com.

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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