Home HIV tests save lives – so why the concerns?

Home HIV Test

Around 90,000 people, including 315 children aged under 15, received specialist care in the UK in 2015 and since 2015, the number of people accessing specialist care for HIV has grown. There are now sufficient HIV treatments that can control the condition and allow those who are HIV-positive to live long and productive lives. Sports legend Magic Johnson and Dr Rupert Whitaker, the founder of the Terrence Higgins Trust, are just two of the high-profile names who have been living with and effectively managing the condition for decades.

Yet diagnosis is still the biggest problem. People are reluctant to be tested for all sorts of reasons, and this means that one in three do not get the treatment they need that could save their lives.

Home testing

A simple home test for HIV is the ideal solution to a prickly problem. There is no requirement to phone or attend a clinic and ask for a test, and you do not even have to walk into a pharmacy to buy a test kit – they can be bought over the internet at sites like http://hivtestkit.co.uk/. The tests are relatively simple to use – obtaining a blood sample via a pinprick in the finger is neither as complicated nor as painful as it might sound, and the result is right there before your eyes in a matter of minutes.

Home tests are also highly accurate, as long as you choose one that is CE-approved and you use it correctly, with an accuracy of more than 99.5 per cent.

What are the concerns?

Despite the fact that home HIV testing can and does save lives, there are still justifiable concerns. These are not so much about the tests themselves as around how people might use or misuse them, and the inherent risks of home testing over being tested in a medical environment.

Bad test = bad result

Tests such as the one described above have been through all the necessary approvals and are highly accurate. However, there are others out there that are less reliable and are more likely to give a false negative, particularly the saliva ones, that many will be tempted with as they negate the need to take a blood sample.

Potential partner screening

Potential partner screening - Man and woman

The three-month window

The home tests screen for HIV antibodies, which start to appear in the bloodstream up to three months after contracting the virus. If therefore, you take a test during this three-month window, you might get a false negative result.

Lack of support

Testing in privacy at home sounds great, but what if the result is positive? This is a time when you really need expert support around you, and it is at this point that being all alone in the comfort of your own home is less of a good thing.

Home HIV tests are without doubt a great tool in the fight against HIV, because they will save lives. However, learning how to use them correctly and responsibly should be prioritised to reduce concerns as much as possible.

*Collaborative feature post* 

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Leyla Preston (603 Posts)

Leyla Preston is the owner and Editor of Motherhood Diaries global magazine for parents. Leyla is a busy mother of two even busier boys; Aron, 8, and Aidan, 7. When Leyla isn’t feeding, managing a gazillion tasks or cleaning the infinite mess at home, she is busy working on this magazine and a new cooking channel coming very soon – no rest for the wicked!You can follow Leyla on Twitter (@M_Diaries) or join the busy Motherhood Diaries Facebook group where all mums get together and share stories and solutions with one another: https://www.facebook.com//groups/motherhooddiaries/