Knowing your HIV status is important – especially as a gay man – yet many people don’t get tested regularly. When I heard that the FDA had approved an at home HIV test (from Oraquick) I thought it was great news.
I decided to try it out to see how it worked, and whether it was as simple as I imagined. I picked up my kit in a CVS store the week it was released. It was the last one they had left – the shelf was empty, but they had one behind the counter – but I don’t know whether it’s because it was popular or because they didn’t order that many.
The actual testing process was very simple. The package contains a plastic box with easy to follow step by step instructions. You use a test stick with a swab to swab your gums, put the stick in a container with a liquid and twenty minutes later you have a result.
One important thing to remember is that the test isn’t 100% effective. According to the booklet, there’s a 9% chance of a false negative (meaning that someone carrying the HIV virus gets a negative result), and there’s an very small chance of a false positive (meaning that someone not carrying the virus gets a positive result). Were I not in a monogamous, committed relationship I would use this test every third month and take one test a year at a clinic because of the risk of false negatives. However, I think this is a good way of minimising the stress of taking an HIV test at a clinic – if the Oraquick at home HIV test says you’re negative,
there’s a 91% chance you are there’s over a 99% chance that you are (thanks to Reddit users Neurokeen and Soulcakeduck for point out my mistake with this number). And taking this test at home with a friend for support is most likely a lot easier for most people, thank going to a clinic.
Here’s a video of me taking the test:
The Oraquick at home HIV test costs $40 and is available in the US at pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid or from Oraquick’s web site.