Federal health officials have approved the first at-home test to detect HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
This test is the first and only rapid over-the-counter test approved in the United States.
About 50,000 Americans become infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, and about half of those who are newly infected with the virus are Black, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Experts hope that this move will not only help people quickly learn if they are HIV+ in the privacy of their own homes, but will help in treating those estimated 20 percent of infected people in the U.S. who don’t know they have it.
The test, made by OraSure and called OraQuick, uses a cheek swab to check for HIV antibodies, and gives results in 20 to 40 minutes. Researches stress that it is as easy to use as a home pregnancy kit.
Despite concerns about learning of the serious diagnosis at home, an FDA panel unanimously agreed that the benefits of the home test outweigh the risks.
“It’s extremely exciting,” said Carl Schmid, deputy executive director of the AIDS Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on issues surrounding the disease. “It could be a potential game-changer for HIV.”