Thanks to OraQuick, you can now learn your HIV status from the privacy of your own home with a simple swab of your mouth. The FDA-approved OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, is the first oral at home test to be approved by the FDA and is now available online and next week will be available in 30,000 retail stores across the U.S. Oraquick is the same test used by doctors, that involve taking a swab from the inside of your mouth and you’ll have the results within 20 minutes. Oraquick will be available in CVS, Kroger, Walgreens, RiteAid, and Walmart. Online, the kit costs $39.99.

Although, this new advancement could be a positive, the CDC warned the FDA that this home testing option could lead to more suicides amongst people who test positive. At the FDA hearings, advocates for AIDS patients handed out copies of an obituary of a San Francisco man who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge after learning he was infected. They felt that because there isn’t anyone in person to provide comfort after a positive result it could lead to suicide. But OraQuick does provide a 24 hour 365 days a year hotline for those who need to talk to someone.

Supporters of OraQuick argue that making the test readily available could ease the pressure on people who may not choose to visit a doctor because of the stigma tied to it. The statistics from Centers for Disease Control & Prevention show there are approximately 1.2 million people in the U.S. that have HIV and approximately 240,000 of them are unaware of their status. People not aware of their status likely are responsible for the 50,000 new HIV infections that occur each year in the U.S.

According to the New York Times, the test has some drawbacks. The accuracy rate drops when it is used by consumers, as opposed to medical professionals. Researchers found the home test accurate 99.98 percent of the time for people who do not have the virus. By comparison, they found it to be accurate 92 percent of the time in detecting people who do. One concern is the “window period” between the time someone gets the virus and begins to develop the antibodies to it, which the test detects. That can take up to three months.

Oraquick’s website offers a checklist that you should follow before you take the test as well as precautions and warnings:

Here’s your checklist when getting ready for the test:

Do not eat, drink or use oral care products (such as mouthwash, toothpaste or whitening strips) 30 minutes before starting this test.
Remove dental products such as dentures or any other products that cover your gums.
Find a quiet, well lighted place where you can be for at least 20 minutes.
Always use the directions in the test kit to help read your results correctly.
If you use glasses to read, you will need them for taking this test.
Please make sure you have read the information on the back of the outer carton box.
Make sure you have a timer, watch or something that can time 20 to 40 minutes.
It may be helpful to have access to a phone to speak directly with a support person.

Warnings & Precautions

A positive result with this test does not mean that you are definitely infected with HIV, but rather that additional testing should be done in a medical setting.
A negative result with this test does not mean that you are definitely not infected with HIV, particularly when exposure may have been within the previous 3 months.
If your test is negative and you engage in activities that put you at risk for HIV on a regular basis, you should test regularly.
This product should not be used to make decisions on behavior that may put you at increased risk for HIV.
For additional information please refer to the product Package Insert supplied with the test kit.

With at home pregnancy, drug and paternity tests, the U.S now has a home test for everything. Would you purchase an at home HIV testing kit?

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  • C

    I thought this was out at least 7 years ago. I remember seeing something at the drugstore for all STD’s. Or is it just that this is the FDA-approved version while the other one maybe was not?

  • Mademoiselle

    I’m actually excited about this news and what this means for advancement in this area.

    One, I’m glad to see the price set reasonably (although I wouldn’t mind if it were $29.99 instead). I think the $40 tag is high enough to give people the sense that it’s a serious exercise but no too outrageous to deter people from picking it up.

    Second, I believe (hope) fewer people will have such negative reactions (suicides) to finding out they’re positive than the professionals fear. My guess would be that initial reactions mirror what happens when people find out they have a baby on the way that they didn’t plan — fear, tears, maybe even bewilderment, but followed by a visit to the doctor to confirm/deny/discuss. Maybe I’m a little optimistic about people’s coping skills and patterns, but I just feel like the people who would have talked themselves into taking the test would have braced themselves for the possibility.

  • African Mami

    I don’t know, BUT-I am soooo against this home test kit. What about pre-counselling, and post counselling after the results?! Who is going to do that? HIV positive results have led many to commit suicide, well at least in Africa. This is cray, to me. I don’t care how unprogressive I sound, but if someone can offer introspect to my queries, I’d be more than glad to have a change of heart.

    • Mademoiselle

      I hear what you’re saying, but at the same time, not committing suicide is a matter of individual pursuit of counceling. Even if someone finds out from a professional first, that professional isn’t going to put the person on suicide watch and force therapy on them as far as I know. The person who’s going to be devistated to the point of suicide is most likely going to take thought route even if they hear it from a professional first. They would have to want help to get help in either scenario. I just don’t think getting the news at home would raise the risk of suicide.

      What I wonder is of the people who commit suicide, when they found out had they gone in specifically to get tested and just took the results very badly, or did they go in for other unrelated reasons and get surprised with the unexpected news.

  • kenzy

    this may seem silly but i have a question, if the test says negative but “does not mean that you are definitely not infected with HIV” and positive means “does not mean that you are definitely infected with HIV” excuse my language but then wtf is the point of an at home test?? thats to me is like taking a home pregnancy test where + does not mean you are pregnant but – doesnt mean your not like what?? huh?? i mean obviously if you are positive (HIV or pregnancy) you should follow up with a doctor but if this HIV test doesnt mean either or what is the point? why not skip, save your $40 and go to a doctor

    • Mademoiselle

      I think all tests come with the disclaimer of error rates. It’s a safeguard against lawsuits.

      Just like condoms don’t guarantee you won’t catch a disease, birth control don’t guarantee you won’t get pregnant, medication don’t guarantee the same results for all patients. There are no absolutes even in science. Just like a pregnancy test can give you a false reading, this test can too.

      So if it says you’re positive, or you’re still unsure after it says you’re negative schedule a follow up appointment.

    • Downsouth Transplant

      Or go to the local public health dept. where they do it for free & a positive test is always followed up with a serum test to rule out false positive/negatives, just a thought:)

    • omfg

      they should only go a local health dept if they are comfortable not being anonymous. you don’t have to go to a health dept to get a reliable test.

    • nikki

      It has to do with the sensitivity and specificity of the test. There’s a tradeoff between making screening exams cost effective, and making them as accurate as possible. The same goes for tests you take at the doctor.

      The CDC website says OraQuick’s sensitivity (ability to detect HIV in people who are in fact positive) is 99.3% and the specificity (ability to provide negative results for people who do not have HIV) is 99.8%.

  • Sherry

    But this can be done for free. Where I live you can get tested anonymously and for free.
    Is free anonymous testing available in the US?