HIV Home Test Kits: Are All Created Equal?
Home medical tests of all kinds have become popular with consumers because they are convenient and provide some measure of privacy. Home medical tests for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, are no exception. Barriers to testing in a clinic include fear of test outcome, fear of discrimination, concern for loss of insurance benefits, negative social stigma attached to the diagnosis, and the inability or unwillingness to go for testing and counseling. For people who are unable or reluctant to go to a clinic for testing, home testing is an option.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Home Testing?There are benefits and drawbacks to home testing for HIV. A few considerations:
- Can be done in the privacy of your home using a mail-in test or a rapid, in-home test
- Can be purchased online or at a local retailer
- Can be done at your convenience
- Testing through local health departments is often free, while home tests cost between $45 and $60. Home testing is not covered by insurance, either.
- If you test at home and your results are positive, it up to you to notify your previous partners. This important public health measure is routinely done by local health departments around the country.
- Obtaining test results can be traumatic, especially if the results are positive and a healthcare provider is not there to provide counseling.
- If you were to leave your PIN around the house or office, anyone could call the toll-free number and use the PIN to obtain the results of a mail-in test. There are greater steps to ensure your privacy if you are tested at a clinic or health department.