By following basic written instructions and using a standard HIV testing kit, people can self-administer the test with the same accuracy as a health care professional, according to a study from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore as reported by Science News.

For the study, 402 people self-tested while waiting for care at an emergency room. They were given clear instructions, used pinprick or mouth swabs to collect blood or saliva samples and placed the samples in a tub. Participants received their positive or negative results in about 20 minutes, and they reported having no difficulty understanding them.

According to Charlotte Gaydos, a Johns Hopkins clinical microbiologist, participants used the same HIV testing kits health care workers use for routine testing.

To measure self-testing accuracy, hospital officials administered their own tests and found the self-testing results matched the hospital workers' test in 400 out of 402 cases. 

According to the article, 2 to 13 percent of people seeking emergency room care are HIV positive. More than 90 percent of people offered the self-test in the study agreed to take it.

Gaydos said that while more studies on the topic are needed, self-tests could receive regulatory approval and become as routine as take-home pregnancy tests.