[HIV 101] Everything you Need to Know about HIV Self-test
What is HIV self-testing?
HIV self-testing, also known as home-based HIV testing, is a way for individuals to test themselves for HIV in the privacy of their own homes. Self-testing typically involves collecting a sample of blood or oral fluid using a kit provided by a professional healthcare provider, and then using the kit to test the sample for the presence of HIV antibodies.
The process for HIV self-testing varies depending on the type of kit used, but typically involves pricking a finger or swabbing the inside of the mouth to collect a sample. The sample of HIV self-testing is then placed onto a test strip or into a solution provided in the kit, and the results are read after a certain period of time.
In Hong Kong, you can get accredited HIV self-test kits from the local pharmacies or some online shops like MY PLACE.
Is HIV self-testing all I need to determine my HIV status?
HIV self-testing kits are designed to be easy to use and provide accurate results. However, it is important to follow the instructions carefully and to get support if needed. Positive results from a self-test must be confirmed with a follow-up test at a healthcare facility.
Why shall I choose HIV self-testing?
HIV Self-testing can be a convenient and private way for individuals to test for HIV, particularly for those who may face stigma or discrimination. It can also help to increase testing rates and early detection of HIV, which can lead to better outcomes for those living with HIV.
1) It is a convenient option to get tested for HIV
HIV self-testing provides a convenient and private way for individuals to test for HIV. This means that people can test at a time and place that suits them, without having to book for an appointment, visit a healthcare facility or disclose their status to others.
2) Everything is confidential
No one really needs to know your HIV status unless you choose to disclose. HIV self-testing allows individuals to maintain their confidentiality and privacy. This is particularly important for those who may face stigma or discrimination, such as men who have sex with men, sex workers, or people who inject drugs.
3) It facilitates early detection of HIV
HIV self-testing can help detect HIV early, which is crucial for ensuring that people receive timely treatment and care. Early detection also helps to prevent the spread of HIV to others.
4) It helps to get more people to do HIV tests
HIV self-testing has the potential to increase the number of people who get tested for HIV. This is important because many people are reluctant to get tested due to fear, stigma, or other reasons. HIV self-testing can be done in private and more people will get tested as long as the test kits are easily obtained and of good quality. HIV self-testing also empowers individuals to take control of their own health and make informed decisions about their HIV status. This can help to reduce the anxiety and fear that often accompany traditional testing methods.
5) It is a more cost-effective option
HIV self-testing can be cost-effective compared to traditional testing methods. This is because it does not require the same level of infrastructure and testing personnel as traditional testing methods.