Americans can now check if they are HIV positive in the confines of their homes. The Food and Drug Administration approved an HIV test that can be taken at home similar to a pregnancy kit. The test manufactured by OraSure Technologies is named, OraQuick.
How does the OraQuick Test work?
It is very simple. All you need to do is to take a mouth swab (not a cheek swab), i.e. swab fluid at the gum line and within a matter of 20 to 40 minutes, the results would become evident. The test detects antibodies produced by HIV virus. (Hence, to get accurate results, a minimum of 3 months should have elapsed since infection).
This would be one of the best possible things for people who suspect that they could be HIV positive. The test may very well help in containing the spread of the AIDS epidemic. Since the test can be taken privately at home, there is a strong possibility that more people would seek medical attention if they find their tests to be positive. The New York Time reports that,
Getting an infected person onto antiretroviral drugs lowers by as much as 96 percent the chance that he or she will transmit the virus to someone else, so testing and treatment have become crucial to prevention. About 20 percent of the 1.2 million infected Americans do not know they have the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, and about 50,000 more get infected each year.
AIDS emerged as an epidemic in the 1980s. The disease has always been shrouded in stigma since spread of virus is attributed to unprotected sex, blood transfusions, needle sharing, and drug injections. Mere testing for HIV is considered akin to being labeled as addicted drugs or even gay; an HIV positive result was a ‘death sentence’.
OraSure plans to make the home test kit available at pharmacies, grocery stores, and online retailers by October. Even though the price has not been fixed, it is estimated to cost more than $17.50 (current cost at which medical professionals get the kit) since a more detailed packing would be required for take home kits. The company would also be opening a 24-hour question line. The test has been approved only for adults (above 17 years) and hence customers might have to show IDs to buy the kit.
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