As of 2019, 38 million people, worldwide, are living with HIV. Since the beginning of this epidemic, we have seen an estimated 75.7 million people infected with HIV. The number of infections grows every year. By now, everyone should be getting tested for HIV regularly. So, why do so many people not get tested?
Getting an HIV test can be stressful and scary. In the past, the only way to get tested was to go to your doctor or a health department. This required you to talk to someone about being LGBTQ in a time when it wasn’t widely accepted. This was why many people refused to get tested. Today, that is only one of many options you have. Now we can take HIV tests in the comfort of our own homes and get the results online.
But what are some of the best at-home HIV test kits?
Reasons Are Like Noses
It can’t be plainer than that, everyone has both, Giving reasons for not getting tested has far worse consequences. To this day, men who sleep with other men are still the leading cause of HIV transmission. Limited access to health services coupled with health disparities are reasons many don’t get tested. Though, they aren’t the only reasons why.
Reason 1. “I don’t think I could cope with knowing I have it.” Yes, finding out that you have HIV can be a scary thought. A lot of this comes from the carry-over mindset of the early days of the epidemic. Having HIV was a death sentence, whether it be from the virus itself or a combination of it and the drugs used to treat it.
Worrying whether you may have it can be as stressful. If you find out one of your partners has it, after an encounter, it definitely can start to cause immense stress. Getting the test could put those fears to rest.
Reason 2. “If I test positive, people will find out.” The reality here is that you are the only one that will share it. Healthcare workers are bound by laws that prevent them from telling others your status.
Who you tell, after that, is your business. Sure, some people you tell may tell others, but that is less likely. Especially if you choose who you tell. But, if you are still sexually active, you should be telling your partners.
Reason 3. “I haven’t had sex recently, so I don’t need an HIV test.” Let me spell it out for you. You need to test often, regardless of your sexual frequency. Most tests will only show an infection after a period of 90 days. So depending on when you last had sexual intercourse, the test may or may give you a false negative. You can never test too much.
Truth About HIV Tests
When you’re infected with HIV, your body starts producing antibodies to fight off the infection. This is what the HIV test looks for.
It usually takes about 3 months for you to build up enough antibodies for a test to identify your exposure. That is a long time. What many don’t know is that it can also take longer than that for your body to build up enough antibodies.
From the time of infection till a body produces antibodies is called the “window period.” It is possible to receive a test and get a false negative and still have the virus. This is why it is important to get tested often.
There are many ways they can test, from drawing blood to doing a cheek swab.
The Age Of At-Home Testing
What most people fail to realize is that testing can be free, quick, and painless. You don’t have to go to your primary physician to get tested. You can also go to any Health Department and get tested anonymously. Most places give you a number to help identify your results when you come back. This is the easiest and best way to get tested.
But with modern technology and access to the internet, there are other ways to get tested. The drawback is that most of these do have a cost attached to them. The bigger advantage is that they do offer a greater degree of anonymity.
Rapid HIV tests can give you a result in as little as 20 minutes. Others can take a bit longer due to sending to a lab for processing. With these, you do not need to put your address on the envelope.
The anonymous factors are some of the biggest reasons for the success of these tests. Even at-home tests give you access to resources for help after you get your results. Each will give you information on how to contact someone if you need to talk about your results. Again, this is all completely anonymous. At-home tests that need blood samples give you access to a webpage for your results and to talk to a counselor if you need one.
3 Best At-Home HIV Tests
3. OraQuick In-Home HIV Test. I have used this test many times and is one of the easiest at-home tests on the market. You can buy it from their website or from Amazon. Make sure that you do not eat or drink for thirty minutes before doing this test. It may affect the results.
It comes in a little white box with all the needed items. You get a vial of the testing agent, a swab for obtaining a sample of your gum cells, and an instruction booklet. I recommend reading the book a few times before you start. You only get one shot at this test. You can also buy it almost anywhere locally, The cost is $39.99, though I remember it being more expensive when it first came out.
The process is pretty simple. You use the swipe the swab across your upper and lower gums. From there you put it in the testing solution and wait. Simple as that. Here is a video outlining the process, as well.
2.Everlywell. This test requires a blood sample to be mailed in for testing. From there it takes about a week to get your results. The test is mailed to your house in a nondescript package and costs $49.99.
Again, you get access to a counselor if you need to talk about your diagnosis or need helpful information. It is anonymous, so the only ones that know you have taken it is you.
1.My LABBOX. This is another test that requires a blood sample. Their tag line is “Don’t go to the lab, have the lab come to you.” Once your results are received, you can expect to have them back to you in 2 – 5 days. Like the ones above, you do not have to worry about any awkward conversations or hassles from medical staff.
The thing you should remember is that a blood sample will always give you the best results. There are studies that show 1 in 12 infected people may receive a false-positive result that relies on oral fluid.
Bonus Test Kit
When I first moved to Ohio, four years ago, I didn’t have a primary care physician. Because of this, I was unsure where to go for any HIV testing. I had purchased the Oraquick test on Amazon before but it was out of stock when I wanted to order it. I decided to look online for the nearest health departments. That’s when I came across some cool information that I want to share.
Ohio offers all residents a free Oral testing kit each year. (https://ohiv.org/free-test-kit/) Even better, their kits come to you in ten days after you fill out their survey and shipped to your home in a plain non-descript envelope. No one will know what is inside. There is no reason for you to wait. So, get your free test kit from Ohio.gov.
What Will Your Reason Be
There are many ways that you can get tested. If you feel you aren’t ready to have it done by a medical professional, then the At-Home HIV Test Kits may be a way for you to feel more comfortable. Just remember that no test is 100%. You also need tested at least every 90 days. This way, you will always know your status. Which one will you choose?