Op-Ed: The Benefits of Rapid Home HIV Testing
by Camille Chin
Nov 29, 2012 | 14363 views | 0 0 comments | 495 495 recommendations | email to a friend | print
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is an estimated 1.2 million people who are living with HIV in the United States. One in five (240,000) of that population are not aware that they are HIV infected. So what does that mean for the people who have unprotected sexual contact with infected individuals who do not know their status?

People who are not aware of their HIV status are responsible for up to 70 percent of the 50,000 new infections each year. So why are individuals not taking the responsibility of getting tested regularly? Is it due to fear or embarrassment of discussing the possibility of contracting HIV with their medical provider? If so, would having the ability to take a rapid HIV test at home decrease that fear?

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test. It is a rapid test that can be used in the privacy of your home and does not require sending a sample to the laboratory for results. The test kit provides results in 20-40 minutes after using the mouth swab provided in the kit.

It is 92 percent accurate if you are HIV positive and 99.9 percent accurate if you are HIV negative. However, if the results are positive, further testing should be performed to completely confirm HIV status due to the possibility of false positives.

The ability to test oneself routinely and quickly for HIV can decrease the risk of infecting others and introduce those infected to necessary care and treatment. In fact, treatment with antiretroviral drugs (ARV) can lower by as much as 96 percent the chance of transmitting the infection to someone else.

According to the CDC, many HIV-infected persons are able to reduce the levels of the virus in the bloodstream to undetectable loads. Therefore, an infected individual using ARVs is able to manage their illness and is less likely to transmit HIV to others.

Discovering that you are HIV positive can be alarming and overwhelming and increases the probability of depression. OraQuick has a 24-hour support center that addresses questions and concerns and is completely confidential. The center can help callers to find a medical provider in order to confirm the test results, seek counseling, and begin treatment.

Individuals who test positive for HIV should feel and know that help is available when needed. They should not have to feel like this is the end for them. People infected with HIV can still live normal lives as long as they seek treatment immediately.

The use of the OraQuick In-Home HIV test can provide early detection of HIV infection. Individuals who are sexually active with one or more partners should get tested regularly to decrease the chance of infecting others by being aware of their status and by reducing their infectivity through treatment.

This form of testing can be used by those who feel a sense of embarrassment, seek privacy, and/or immediate results. The OraQuick test is another method to help control the spread of HIV, and will help in reducing the number of newly infected persons with HIV each year.

Camille Chin is a student at LIU Brooklyn.

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