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Going Solo: Useful Tips on HIV Self-Testing

  1. What exactly is an HIV home-test?

    There are two types of HIV self-testing kits currently available. The one test requires a simple pinprick of blood and the other version is an oral swab test that doesn’t need blood.

  1. Why self-test?

    A lot of guys don’t feel comfortable going to a clinic to get tested and there have been reports by some who feel judged by certain healthcare workers. Most men find it hard to share personal information like their sexual history with healthcare workers, especially female healthcare workers. Health4Men service clinics have been trained to be sensitive and are informed about men who have sex with men, but some guys just don’t have time in the week to get to a clinic.

  1. Is it painful?

    Most kits use a lancet. You put it on the tip of your finger and press firmly so that it pricks the skin. It’s not as painful as it sounds – just like a dull pinprick.

  1. How long does a home-test take?

    Home-test kits are simple to use and should include straightforward and easy-to-follow instructions. The whole procedure takes approximately 15 minutes to complete.

  1. How reliable is an HIV home-test?

    Licensed HIV tests that have been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) are very reliable. On rare occasions, they will produce a positive result which is then found to be negative – known as a false positive test result. If you receive a positive result from your home test, you should go to an HIV clinic as soon as possible for a confirmation test.

  1. What if I test HIV-negative?

    It takes 6 – 12 weeks for your body to create antibodies when HIV enters your body. HIV tests pick up the antibodies in your blood and not the actual virus. Remember, it is possible to get an HIV-negative test result during this 12-week window period. If you’ve had high-risk exposure to HIV, like a broken condom or unprotected sex with someone whose status you don’t know, you will need to take another test after the 12 weeks to confirm your status. Remember that it may take up to three months from the time of infection for traces of HIV to show up in an HIV test. The kit will provide you with more specific information about this ‘window period’.

  1. What if I test HIV-positive?

    On rare occasions, a test may produce an HIV-positive result when the person is negative. This is called a false positive test result. If you receive a positive result from your home test, you should go to your doctor or healthcare worker as soon as possible for a confirmation test. If the second test is also a positive result, the clinic will start you on ARVs immediately. Starting ARVs early after your diagnosis, will improve your health quicker and has long-term health benefits. ARVs will lower the amount of HIV in your blood, which reduces the risk of passing it onto your sexual partner. It’s always better to know your HIV status. Whether your result is negative or positive, it will mean you can move on with your life, and start treatment if you need to. It will ultimately help protect your health and the health of the people around you.

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