Stay Safe: A Guide to HIV Home Testing
A guide HIV home testing
We all know the importance of regular check-ups, from routine blood tests to check vital organ functions and cholesterol levels, to periodic smear tests to identify early onset cervical cancer. The idea is to identify any potential health problems at the earliest possible moment, as the sooner the diagnosis, the better the chances of dealing with the problem before it becomes serious or even life-threatening.
Today, doctors are recommending that everyone should include HIV testing as part of this routine, and the advice makes sense on absolutely every level. Advances in medical technology mean that HIV can be treated and managed so that those who are HIV positive can live long and healthy lives. However, the fact that you can be HIV positive for months or years before any outward symptoms manifest means that testing is vital.
HIV home tests
It is not just the treatment of HIV that has advanced almost beyond recognition, it is also the means of diagnosis. For whatever reason, there are still plenty of people who feel uncomfortable about walking into a clinic and asking for an HIV test. Whether you call it shyness, nervousness or embarrassment, the point is that to delay could be a fatal. The ability to do an HIV home test could, therefore, be nothing short of a life saver for thousands of people.
What does the test involve?
Chances are, you have had one of those blood sugar tests, where the nurse pricks your finger to take a tiny blood sample. A home HIV test involves exactly the same process and is practically painless. All you need to do is prick your finger with the special lancet that comes with the kit, allow a few drops of blood to drip onto the test strip and wait 15 to 20 minutes for the result.
Accuracy of HIV home tests
The result will indicate whether or not there are HIV antibodies present in your blood. The tests are accurate, subject to a couple of caveats:
1) If you have contracted HIV within the past three months, it might not yet show up.
2) Like any HIV test, including those carried out in clinics, there is the small possibility (around 0.3 percent) of a false positive.
The important point to bear in mind is that while a false positive is a possibility – 0.3 percent equates to a one in 300 chance – false negatives are practically unheard of, with a likelihood of less than one in 10,000.
If you get a positive result, the most important thing to do is get a second test carried out by your doctor or at an HIV clinic. This will determine whether or not you are definitely HIV positive, and if you are, you will be able to get straight into the business of appropriate treatment to start managing the problem.
Home HIV testing makes absolute sense to incorporate into your overall health checking routine. The worst thing you can do is delay, so why not do it today?