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  1. Home Use Tests

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

What does this test do? This is a home-use collection kit to detect whether or not you have antibodies to HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).

What is HIV? HIV is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

What type of test is this? This is a qualitative test -- you find out whether or not you have this infection, not how advanced your disease is.

Why should you do this test? You should do this test to find out if you have an HIV infection. If you know that you have an HIV infection,

  • you can obtain medical treatment that helps slow the course of the disease, and
  • you can take precautions to keep from infecting others.

Untreated, HIV destroys your immune system. The most advanced stage of HIV infection is AIDS, an often-fatal disease.

When should you do this test? You should do this test if you believe there is a chance you may have an HIV infection. You are at greatest risk for HIV if you:

  • have ever shared injection drug needles and syringes or "works."
  • have ever had sex without a condom with someone who had HIV.
  • have ever had a sexually transmitted disease, like chlamydia or gonorrhea.
  • received a blood transfusion or a blood-clotting factor between 1978 and 1985.
  • have ever had sex with someone who has done any of those things

If you use this test, no one but you will know you were tested for HIV or what the results showed.

How accurate is this test? This test is similar to the test your doctor would use.  Researchers have found that about 90 of 100 home users were able to obtain acceptable samples for sending to the laboratory. After the laboratory got these 90 samples, they could get results for about 81 of 100 of them. Of these 81 samples, the laboratory almost always shows whether or not the person tested had HIV infection.

Does a positive test mean you have HIV? If you test positive in this test, you are infected with the HIV virus. You should take precautions so you do not spread this infection to your sexual partners or others who might be at risk. You should not donate blood because this infection could spread to others. Having HIV infection does not necessarily mean you have AIDS. You should see your doctor so you can learn the status of your disease and decide what therapy, if any, you need.

If your results are negative, can you be sure that you do not have HIV infection? If you test negative for HIV, it means you did not have antibodies to HIV at the time of the test. However, if you are newly infected, it will take time for you to make antibodies. It is uncertain how long it may take you to develop antibodies--it may take more than 3 months. So, although you may be infected, the results of your testing will not verify that you are infected for several months. If you think you were exposed to the virus and might be infected, you should test yourself again in a few months.

How do you do this test? The test comes with sterile lancets, an alcohol pad, gauze pads, a blood specimen collection card, a bandage, a lancet disposal container, a shipping pouch, and instructions. To do the test, you

  • call a specified telephone number,
  • register a code number that is included with the specimen collection kit,
  • prick your finger with a lancet to get a drop of blood,
  • place drops of blood on the card,
  • send the shipping pouch by express courier service to the central testing laboratory,
  • receive results by phone after 3-7 business days later, and
  • if you test positive for HIV, you get counseling on what to do about your infection.

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