December #184 : Home Alone - by Trenton Straube

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The POZ 100-Accelerating the End of AIDS

The POZ 100-The Seekers

The POZ 100-The Hunters

The POZ 100-The Defenders

The POZ 100-The Soldiers

The POZ 100-Cure All Glossary

Love is the Cure

From the Editor

More Than a Feeling


Letters-December 2012


Towards an HIV Cure

POZ Planet

A Very Big Kiki

Russians Deploy 'Google Bombs'

Home Alone

Say What-Paris Hilton

Back to School

What's a Buyers' Club? Matthew Knows.

iPad Video Game to Teach HIV Prevention Skills


Tried and True

Care and Treatment

One a Day to Keep Heart Attacks Away?

One Form to Rule Them All

Stribild is Here


Nature's Little Helpers

GMHC Treatment Issues December 2012

Research Notes

Prevention: Selzentry Is PrEP Contender

Treatment: Dolutegravir Shows Promise

Cure: Curious Cohort on Early Treatment

Concerns: Fewer Comebacks From Heart Attacks

POZ Survey Says

Healthy Technology

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Breaking Bad Cycles

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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December 2012

Home Alone

by Trenton Straube

Over-the-counter HIV tests: helpful or harmful?

The first at-home rapid HIV test kit became available over the counter in October. Is this a treat, or a trick? Depends on whom you ask. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the OraQuick test in hopes of reaching people who wouldn’t get tested in other situations. It costs about $40 and gives results in 20 to 40 minutes after you swab the inside of your mouth (no blood is involved). OraSure, makers of the test, has set up a bilingual, 24/7 support center to direct referrals and answer questions. The home tests don’t always detect HIV during the first three months of infection—the so-called “window period”—and there will be false positives (one out of every 5,000 tests of people who are actually negative) and false negatives (about one out of every 12 tests of people who are in fact positive). This is called 99.98 percent specificity and 92 percent sensitivity, respectively.

What happens if people use the tests to screen their hookups? To find out, Columbia University researcher Alex Carballo-Dieguez, PhD, gave home HIV tests to 32 “high, high risk” men who had unprotected anal sex with multiple men. Of their nearly 140 sexual partners in New York City, 72 percent agreed to the tests and 10 tested positive; there were seven verbally aggressive reactions but no physical violence. The men liked having the testing option and said it helped them curb their risk-taking. (For further details, click here.)

POZ online readers expressed their own thoughts on the subject. An edited sampling:

This absolutely gives a false sense of security and is the wrong direction.
—Chris, Tampa

Do we care about people once they’ve tested positive, or is any cost OK so the bareback party crowd can decrease their risk?

People have a right to know the positive status of their sexual partners.
—Jeton, Harlem, NY

This test will create more prejudice toward us. People should know that condoms work for them, not against them.

Testing and treatment of HIV should be left up to the professionals.
—Keith, Portland

This provides people the choice to get tested in the most comfortable surroundings they can make.
—SoulAsylum, Minneapolis

Search: Over-the-counter HIV test, OraQuick, Food and Drug Administration, OraSure

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