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Follow-up Essential for Positive Home HIV Test Results

Follow-up Essential for Positive Home HIV Test Results

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) tests that can be taken at home are good options for individuals who want to know whether they have been infected with the acquired immune deficiency (AIDS) virus but shy away from clinics and doctors’ offices, says an expert from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

Studies show that home HIV tests, which have been on the market for about 2 years, are as accurate as HIV tests administered by doctors and other health care professionals, said Andy Luber, PharmD, a UCSF pharmacist and infectious disease expert. Because free HIV tests are available in clinics, home tests may cost more. However, they are easy to use and are as reliable as clinic-based tests. Home HIV tests, available in pharmacies for about $50, are good options for individuals in a range of situations—especially low-risk individuals who simply want peace of mind.

Testing Positive—The Next Step

People who test positive—regardless of where they’re tested—must seek help from physicians and other experts who can help them control the disease and learn to live with it. “There is nothing like having one-on-one contact,” said Luber.

It is essential for persons who have test HIV-positive using home test kit to make sure that they get the medical help and moral support they need. “Knowing that there are going to be resources and medical advice available to you is probably more important than whether you take the test at home or at a clinic,” said Luber. “If you tested positive, you would want someone to talk to.” Tests approved by the FDA are recommended because they provide easy access to initial telephone counseling and medical referrals for users, along with results.

Studies show that about one-quarter to one-third of people who take clinic-based tests do not return for their results and don’t find out if they tested positive or not. Phone contact may help ensure that people get their results.

Using Home Test Kits

It is essential that users of any home screening test—whether it’s for HIV, pregnancy, or diabetes—follow basic rules to make sure that they use the test correctly. Since each product is different, users must read directions carefully before employing the tests.

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