Most of us go for periodic health checks, whether it is to keep an eye on the cholesterol level, routine screenings for potential cancer, blood pressure monitoring or a host of other conditions that can have serious health implications if left unchecked, but can be managed and controlled as long as they are accurately diagnosed. Many of these can even be tested from home, without the need to waste time going to a GP, hospital or clinic.
HIV is a classic example of this on every level. It is a condition whereby symptoms are not at all obvious, so you can easily be HIV positive and not know it. Yet late diagnosis is the single biggest issue in HIV treatment – more than half of diagnoses are made “late” in terms of getting the optimum treatment.
The above points certainly suggest that everyone should routinely have an HIV test, just to be on the safe side.
Home tests are life savers
So why don’t they? The answers are complex and revolve around the connotations that have still not been dispelled from the 1980s. Deep down, lots of people still think that if they ask for an HIV they will be judged as being either promiscuous, a drug addict or probably both. It sounds crazy to think that people would endanger their lives over this perceived stigma, but human nature is a strange thing.
For these reasons, home HIV tests are life savers. No “embarrassing” appointments to book, and you don’t even have to walk into a chemist’s shop to buy one. It’s just a case of logging on to http://hivtestkit.co.uk/, ordering the kit and waiting for it to arrive through the post. Then there is just the matter of using it.
How to test yourself
The first step is to read the instructions, and the second step is to read them again. With those provisos out of the way, we will run through what the most popular and reliable kits do, and how you use them.
Home HIV kits use a tiny sample of your blood to test for HIV antibodies. The first thing you have to do is provide the sample from a pinprick to the finger. The kit comes with a small lancet for this purpose, and it is not really painful. The biggest issue is that some people find it difficult to get the six to eight drops of blood that are needed – this tutorial provides some useful tips.
With the sample obtained, follow the instructions in the kit. You will probably be required to mix it with a bottle of solution onto a specially prepared test strip, then wait 20 minutes or so for the result.
Dealing with the result
Obviously, you will get either a positive or negative result. If it is negative, that’s great, but be aware that if you have been infected in the past three months, you cannot be sure this is accurate, as this is how long it takes the HIV antibodies to manifest in your bloodstream. If in doubt, take an additional test later a couple of months later.
If the result is positive, it is important to contact your doctor immediately. Early diagnosis is what home testing is all about, so stay in the right frame of mind, and make the most of the support that is available to help you get the most appropriate treatment.