In July, the FDA approved the first at-home HIV test, OraQuick, for online and over-the-counter sale at retailers like Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart, and this month the product officially became available to consumers. For just $40, people can take the HIV test in the privacy of their home and within 20 minutes they will be given an answer about their status.
Though it hasn’t been on the market long, OraQuick already has one major backer, Magic Johnson. Speaking at a presentation for Orasure Technologies’ new test, Johnson, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1991, spoke on his own prognosis and what this test means for HIV rates down the line, particularly among minorities.
“I think it’s a game changer for us,” he said. ”When you think about the black and brown community, the stigma behind HIV and AIDS in our community … [not wanting] anybody to see us walk into a clinic or to the doctor’s office, this kit will help. That’s the people who I was thinking about most when I thought about this kit.”
According to the Huffington Post, Government officials currently estimate about 240,000 people, or one-fifth of the approximate 1.2 million people carrying HIV in the U.S., don’t know they are infected. New infections have remained the same at about 50,000 per year for the last 20 years. Magic has noticed the lack of progress.
“After I announced [my prognosis] … people were running out to actually get tested … We had a good run for about five or six years where we were talking about it openly. But fast-forward to today, people are not talking about it like they used to,” he said.
Magic is hopeful that this new at-home test will get the conversation going again, and help those who are infected cope more easily with the news.
“I think the suspense would have been taken away. Would I have reacted the same way? Yes. But what saved my life? Early detection. I got on some meds right away. In the black and brown community, what happens is a lot of time we find out too late, so the meds can’t help us.”
Let’s hope the word about this new test spreads faster than the disease. What do you think about the OraQuick at-home test?