Thursday, November 03, 2005

HIV Testing: Coming to a home near you?

HIV continuously enters new territories in terms of treatment, prevention, and even stigma. This tiny virus is no stranger to raising controversy, and the home HIV test is no different. USA Today cites several cons to moving the test to home, including the hazard of the response a person may have to a positive test without a physcian or counselor present. Some of you will argue, who cares if the person is going to do something to hurt themselve, then they can wait and do it after they leave the doctor's office anyway. Others may go as far as to say, that one less HIV carrier wouldn' t be a bad thing.

I am an optomist, however. I hope that in our life time HIV will become treatable, or at the very least preventable through vaccination in the near future. I also think that moving the test to over the counter is a huge step. People are more likely to get tested without symptoms if they can avoid going to a doctor's office, but I think that more people could have negative outcomes with a positive test.

Let's face it, no test is perfect anyway. The biggest loss would be the false positive test that leads to a suicide. I recognize that is rare and may be outweighed by some of the positive benefits of the test. Obviously, earlier diagnosis by resposible parties could decrease unintentional spread of the virus.

I can say this too, that it may change the way health and life insurance do things. I am not sure whether or not new members are tested for HIV, but they would most certainly be if there was a home test. If I were to test positive on a home test and were uninsured, then heck yes I would try to hide it until insurance covered me. Depending on how widespread that occured it could mean higher health care costs for all of us.

As you can see from my ramblings, I am neither pro or con at this point; just a reporter.

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