FDA approves at-home HIV test
  • Thu, 07/05/2012 - 2:21pm

In the event you’ve put yourself at risk for HIV infection – or just want to take responsible precautions – but are too embarrassed to visit a clinic and get tested, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the OraQuick In-Home HIV test earlier this week.

According to the FDA’s website, “The test checks for antibodies to HIV. You swab your upper and lower gums for an oral fluid sample with the test device. That device is placed in a tube with a developing solution. After 20 to 40 minutes, one line will appear if the test is negative. Two lines indicate that HIV antibodies were detected and that you may be HIV positive.”

The FDA cautions that one out of 5,000 tests will produce a false positive. In the event you test positive, you should see your doctor or call the OraQuick consumer support center, where counselors are available 24 hours a day to provide referrals.

The FDA also cautions that, in clinical studies, the OraQuick test produced a false negative in one out of 12 HIV-positive consumers. One should bear in mind that the kit cannot test the actual infection until three months after the infection is contracted.

This is not the first at-home HIV test the FDA has approved, but it is the first in which you can learn the results on your own, without sending a swab to a lab. In 1996, the FDA approved the Home Access HIV-1 Test System, in which the test taker sent a dollop of dried blood to a lab and called for anonymous results in a few days.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 1.2 million people in the United States have HIV and one out of every five people is unaware of their condition.

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a lethal virus that reproduces destructive copies of itself and destroys the cells that protect the body from disease and infection. After so many cells have been destroyed, HIV can turn into AIDS.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Here are some preventative measures from Livestrong.com:

  • Know your status before having sex with someone. You don’t want to unknowingly have and spread the disease to others. If infected, you should begin the treatment process as soon as possible to strengthen your immune system and prevent AIDS.
  • Abstain from sexual intercourse until you know your partner’s status, especially if you are not in a faithful relationship.
  • Use protection if you or your partner has HIV, or if you are unsure about your – or your partner’s – status.
  • Get circumcised. The National Institutes of Health in Kenya reported in a 2006 study that circumcised men in a heterosexual relationship are 53 percent less likely to contract the disease.
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