Tell Me About...At-Home HIV Testing
By Lauren Haines, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC
June 27th is the national #HIVTestingDay and in the spirit of that, Lauren Haines is sharing a little more about HIV testing and how home HIV testing can be an important and accessible way to get the screening you need done from the comfort of your own home.
Why is at-home HIV testing important?
At-home HIV testing allows patients to avoid the stigma around requesting an HIV test from an in-person healthcare provider. Having the test delivered to your home is also typically more convenient, especially for people with transportation barriers.
Confidentiality is also a big benefit to at-home HIV testing. If you are a prominent member of the local community or if you just know a lot of people... at home testing really reduces the number of people that you need to interact with in order to get testing. It provides a bit more privacy than if you have to go to an in-person visit and then a lab visit.
How can you choose the best at-home HIV test?
There are a couple of different options for at-home HIV tests. There is a rapid test commercially available that you can purchase online or in a drug store without an order from a doctor or healthcare provider. This is a mouth swab that you collect yourself, and the result appears within 20 minutes. The benefit to this test is that it is easy and convenient, and results are quick. The rapid test is an antibody only test. It is about 92% accurate at detecting HIV, and can detect HIV as early as 23 days after exposure, but may take up to 90 days for an accurate result (CDC, 2022; FDA, n.d.).
There is also a blood test that you can do yourself at home, like we use at TBD Health, using a lancet to prick your finger and applying blood onto a card. This test can typically detect HIV slightly earlier than the oral antibody test. This test, if performed correctly, is also more accurate than the oral swab. This test is about 99% accurate at detecting HIV, and can detect HIV as early as 18 days after exposure, but may take up to 90 days for an accurate result (CDC, 2022).
The best test for you may be the one you can do most accurately.
The blood test is most accurate, but if you are terrified of blood or have a hard time getting enough blood out of your finger – the oral swab test might be the better choice for you.
Stuck and trying to understand what might be a better fit for you? Contact one of our clinicians (or your local health care provider) so we can guide you through what makes the most sense for you!
CDC (2022). Types of HIV tests. Division of HIV Prevention, National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/hiv-testing/test-types.html
FDA (n.d.). Information regarding the OraQuick in-home HIV test. https://www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/approved-blood-products/information-regarding-oraquick-home-hiv-test
This article provides information about sexual health, healthcare and/or related subjects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be construed as a substitute for, medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or person with a medical concern should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of TBD HEALTH INC.