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Ellen Friedrichs

FDA Approves Rapid Home HIV Test

By July 5, 2012

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This week, the Food and Drug Administration approved something that has the potential to affect a lot of lives: a rapid at home HIV test. Described as similar to an at home pregnancy test, the OraQuick test involves taking a mouth swab and provides results in 20 to 40 minutes. Other home tests require the user to take their own blood and then send it into a lab which they must later contact in order to receive results.

I have to say, this sounds like awesome news to me. But to be honest, I don't know if I always would have felt like that. About 10 years ago, I trained as an HIV testing counselor with the New York City Department of Health.

The training was intense and I learned a lot. One of the things that was stressed was the importance of offering pre and post test counseling to anyone taking an HIV test. We were told that this was crucial both so that the person had accurate information about what the results of an HIV test might mean and also in case someone had an awful (even suicidal) reaction to the news that he or she was HIV positive.

But while HIV is not a thing of the past (the government's health agency, the CDC recently reported that the number of new HIV cases is holding steady and that majority of these are among young men who have sex with men), the way we look at is is different.

With proper medical treatment an HIV diagnosis can now be seen as a life long chronic condition and not as the death sentence it once was. And while there is still stigma surrounding HIV, we are a far place from the days where there were calls to send people with HIV to isolation colonies or to ban children with HIV from attending school.

One of the biggest worries with HIV is that many people who have the virus don't even know it and can pass it on unwittingly. Hopefully, this test will take away a barrier to learning your status and will play a part in reducing the rate of new HIV infections.

Would you take an at home HIV test?

Keep reading for information about how to get an HIV test...

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