When I first heard about the over-the-counter HIV test I had mixed feelings. Actually, I still do. While it appears to be a wonderful idea to have access to an HIV test and results at your own convenience….this may not be a good thing. I have been in HIV/AIDS Outreach since 1995 when I lost my first uncle to AIDS. At one point, I was certified to test people for HIV. In my opinion, there is a strong need to have a counselor present when receiving your test results. The fact is, not everyone is mentally prepared to receive a “positive” result. Counselors are there to tell you that it is going to be ok and that life is not going to stop because you have this disease. Counselors point you in the right direction to get help, medication, etc.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that it’s all bad. I’m just saying that there is much more that comes along with taking an HIV test. Knowing your status is great! Understanding that if you are positive it’s not a death sentence is important too. If I got “not so good” news, I would want someone to be there to comfort me. In this society, it is easier for me to call a friend and say “I took a test and I am pregnant” than it is to say “I took a test and I have HIV”.
I don’t know. Maybe the home test will change the way that we look at HIV. Maybe it will be a good change. Only time will tell. I do want to encourage anyone who takes this at home test to reach out to someone if you are positive and don’t be afraid. You will be just fine.