The Pros and Cons of using an HIV home test kit

Did you know that you can buy a HIV testing kit over the counter and simply test yourself at home? It is now possible to buy an HIV self-testing kit at just about any pharmacy. But before you do go out and buy one, let’s look at the good and bad about HIV self-testing.

Pros of HIV Home Test Kits

It’s Private

If you’re someone who chooses not to go for HIV testing, one of the reasons could be because you don’t want to sit down with a healthcare practitioner. It could be for a number of reasons. Perhaps you don’t want to discuss your sexual history, perhaps you feel like the person testing you might be judgmental or you simply don’t want anyone to know your results – not even a healthcare practitioner. With an HIV self-test kit, you get to take the test in the privacy of your own home. No one but you needs to know about the test.

However, there are concerns about you doing the test alone which will be discussed in the cons Choma.

It’s Quick

Another reason you might not get tested for HIV is because you might be thinking about having to go all the way to the clinic or having to wait in a queue to see the healthcare practitioner. Self-testing for HIV at home means you don’t have to go anywhere and the test itself takes only a few minutes. It comes with everything you need to complete the test quickly and also has full directions on how to do it properly, so you don’t have to spend hours trying to figure to out. You could know your status in about 15 minutes.

Cons of HIV Home Test Kits

Lack of counseling

Counseling before taking a test and, possibly, after taking a test is an important part of HIV testing Choma. Pre-test counseling prepares you for the possibility of being HIV positive and post-test counseling, if you are HIV positive, is meant to help you cope with the news. Finding out that you’re HIV positive is not the end of the world and you can certainly live a long and healthy life while living with HIV. However, it’s understandable to be shocked when you first find out that you’re HIV positive and that is why it’s important to have a professional there ready to take you through it and give you advice on treatment and management of HIV.

Not taking the test properly

Although the instructions are easy, it’s also easy to get it wrong. For example, not getting enough of a blood sample, forgetting to add the sample diluent that comes with the kit, waiting too long or not waiting long enough to check the results, or using an expired test kit. If you use the self-test kit and get no result (i.e. no lines show on the stick), then it could mean that you used the test incorrectly. Getting tested for HIV at a healthcare service provider means that the test and results are more likely to be accurate since healthcare practitioners have had enough practise with testing to do it properly every time.

It’s also important to note that, although the test is said to be 99% accurate, it’s still important to go and get a test done at your nearest healthcare practitioner – whether you are negative or positive.

If your results are negative when you take the test, then remember you still need to go get another test in the next 12 weeks. That’s because there usually is a window period (which is a about 3 months) for HIV infection. This means that HIV can take up to 3 months to show up in your blood so it’s important to get tested regularly.

And if you do have the test done on your own, get counseling after, particularly if you find out that you are HIV positive. It’s important if your test results show that you are HIV positive, to go to your nearest clinic for counseling and another test to confirm your results. The healthcare practitioner will be able to take you through what your HIV positive test results mean, how to manage being HIV positive and advice on taking Antiretrovirals to manage the condition (ARVS).

Here’s more information about finding out your’re HIV positive and taking ARV treatment:

What happens if you discover you are HIV Positive

What exactly are ARVs

Preparing for HIV treatment

One of the helplines you can also call is the AIDS helpline on 0800 012 322. It’s a 24-hour hotline that provides information on HIV testing, treatment, care and prevention.

Whether you get tested at home or with a healthcare practitioner, knowing your status is extremely important. Getting tested is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your health, your peace of mind and for your partner.

So what do you think about HIV self-testing Choma? Would you do it? Let me know in the comments below.

If you need advice or help, remember that you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657)