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
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 situationsespecially low-risk
individuals who simply want peace of mind.
Testing PositiveThe Next Step
People who test positiveregardless of where theyre
testedmust 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 dont
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 testwhether
its for HIV, pregnancy, or diabetesfollow 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.