Stores that OraQuick will be available in include CVS, Kroger, Walgreens, RiteAid, and Walmart. Online, the kit costs $39.99.
Worries by some activists over the new at-home tests include the fact that if someone does receive a positive test, there is no counselor there to comfort and talk to the person and could even lead to suicide. However, OraQuick provides a 24-hour hotline available 365 days a year within the testing equipment for those wanting to talk to someone.
Other concerns include the fact a positive person may choose to ignore the results and not contact an agency or physician to begin treatment. And while the oral swab test has a 98 percent accuracy rate when conducted by a professional, that percentage drops to 92 percent when conducted by a layperson. OraQuick recommends that any person taking the test with questions and a positive result contact a professional for follow up.
Supporters of the test argue that being able to take the test at home eases pressure on people who may not choose to go to a doctor or an HIV agency and sit in a waiting room for an HIV test. And by making HIV tests more readily available to people, there is the hope that infection rates will lower while also eliminating stigma surrounding HIV.
Research shows that an HIV-positive person in treatment and on antiretroviral drugs is 96 percent less likely to transmit the disease to another person.
According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 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.
Gay and bisexual men continue to account for the rising number of new HIV infections. The CDC reports that while gay and bisexual men represent 2 percent of the U.S. population, they account “for more than half of both new HIV infections each year and Americans living with HIV. Since the beginning of the epidemic, nearly 350,000 gay and bisexual men with AIDS have died, and more than 8,000 still die each year.”
For African American gay and bisexual men, the numbers are dire.
An Emory study presented this year at the International Conference on AIDS showed that black men who have sex with men contracted HIV at a rate of 2.3 percent per year, or nearly 50 percent higher than white men who have sex with men. The study was conducted in Atlanta, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
A how-to video on conducting the new OraQuick home test at home is below: