HIV Tests – Home Kits vs. Doctor Testing

Some individuals may question whether it is better to buy home kits or have a doctor test them. Although doctors testing individuals have remained popular due to being able to have the doctor perform the tests and the speed at which the tests are returned, home tests are slowly gaining in popularity, especially as they are now becoming FDA accepted. However, while the home kits are gaining in popularity, only one home kit is currently accepted by the FDA, with a handful of others undergoing review by the FDA.

The Advantages of Home Testing

Home kits have many advantages. Among these advantages is that they are far cheaper than doctor administered tests. In addition, they can provide an individual with complete anonymity, which is something that a doctor cannot provide. Individuals can send their completed test with only a control number on it, and they do not need to give their name, which will help to protect their identity. Although this also means they will need to pay for a home kit because insurance companies do not currently pay for them, it may be a good choice for individuals who do not wish for their identities to be known.

Doctor-Administered Tests

Doctor testing is different in multiple ways, however, mainly due to the variations in cost and the atmosphere you have to take the test in. Doctor administered tests, like the kind that check for viral codes, are very expensive and can make a hospital bill very high if multiple tests need to be administered. In addition, individuals have to deal with the impartial responses of doctors or nurse practitioners who have to tell individuals that they are now infected with HIV. Although many doctors try hard to be sincere, there is only so much sincerity that can be given under the circumstances these individuals face.

Receiving Adequate Support

Family support is a big factor for some individuals in using a home kit for HIV testing, as some prefer to have individuals supporting them during the testing process. However, other individuals choose a home kit because they do not want any of their friends or family members to know. For these individuals, the last thing they want is for their families to be informed of their situation or to be in a situation where they will need to share the results. Despite this, family can play a strong support for an individual, especially if he or she just found they are HIV positive. Although at times family can make a situation more emotional, there are also times a family can make a difference for an individual being able to handle his or her situation.

Disadvantages of Home Kits

A disadvantage of choosing a home kit for HIV testing is that a doctor not only will be unable to help individuals understand the results, but that individuals will also be unable to seek counseling as easily. Counseling can help individuals prepare for a test, gain understanding, and teach them how to cope after they have been given their results. Post-test counseling is beneficial as not only will an individual learn about living with the virus, but he or she will have support through a counselor if there is no other location that he or she can obtain support from. In addition, post-test counseling can help prevent further individuals from being infected.

Doctor Tests Boast Better Accuracy Rate

For some individuals, they prefer to have testing results that are as accurate as possible. For these individuals, they want their doctors to confirm their results as, in most instances, people will need to have their results confirmed by doctors if they receive a positive result through a home kit. However, while home tests are not always accurate, doctor-administered tests are not always accurate and must usually be confirmed with a secondary test, as with the Western Blot test. Different tests are more accurate, and it has been confirmed that doctor testing is more efficient and accurate than home kits.

The decision of which HIV test to take will eventually fall upon the individual, who must determine what he or she will want to do. If an individual prefers having his or her family around, a doctor could be a good option, but if true anonymity is preferred, a home kit is the best choice. The final decision will need to be weighed against accuracy, price, and the testing environment.

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