For many people, the news that the Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the OraQuick HIV home testing kit, may be good. Some have argued that the home kit will allow many people who have shied away from testing to know their status and lead to better treatment
Unfortunately, those are theories that are being advanced by those who have never come face to face with HIV and AIDS. The truth is that testing for HIV is an emotional journey that should never be travelled alone.
Bisi Alimi of The Guardian says, “While early diagnosis followed by treatment and care is a major force in driving down the epidemic the world over, it doesn’t mean that this innovation will make HIV testing normal.”
Alimi also warns that “There is a risk that we are falling for propaganda designed to do more to help Orasure Technologies, which developed OraQuick test for HIV,and less to help those confronted with the prejudice associated with a positive diagnosis.”
Those words are true. There is nothing normal about testing for HIV, especially that in many cases,one decides to test because they feel they have been exposed to the virus in one way or another. People can choose to pretend and claim to be emotionally ready to test at home but in reality, a positive HIV result, can lead even the mentally strongest of human beings to ‘lose it.’
Don’t forget that, while public stigma and discrimination towards those living with HIV has reduced, those who have followed the HIV fight will confess that self stigma is still one of the biggest challenges in combating the pandemic.
That is why it is very important to undergo counselling before testing for HIV. Even if you turn up to be negative, the counselling helps one to make better future decisions that will delay or completely protect them from contracting HIV.
It is true that more than a quarter of a million Americans, of the 1.2 million who are infected with HIV, have no idea that they carry the virus. The home testing kit may help them know their status but what guarantee is there that they will use the home test?
Don’t forget the warning of Alimi when he says, “There is a risk that we are falling for propaganda designed to do more to help Orasure Technologies, which developed OraQuick test for HIV and less to help those confronted with the prejudice associated with a positive diagnosis.”