Test for HIV? DIY.

We’ve all been there. Sitting in a waiting room on a plastic chair, waiting for your number to be called. It doesn’t help that you don’t like needles and you’ve had to take a few hours out of your work day to attend. And the magazines are rubbish — Justin and Selena broke up ages ago, for God’s sake…

If you’re a sexually active gay man, chances are you have experienced the above scenario of a HIV test. Though an important part of maintaining a regimen of sexual health, a percentage of people may not test regularly (or at all) for a variety of reasons. Time pressures. Being nervy around doctors. Having to come back in to get results. Even embarrassment can be a reason why some test less frequently than the recommended twice a year, or more for those at a higher risk of HIV.

The recent AIDS Conference held in Durban revealed that HIV home-testing kits — already available in the USA, the UK and parts of Europe — were a promising way of addressing this shortfall. Presenting the results of an Australian study conducted with 362 men in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, it was revealed that such kits practically doubled the frequency of HIV testing in Australian gay men. Many of the participants cited the convenience, privacy, and non-invasiveness of self-testing as a reason for this rise in monitoring their sexual health.

Given that they are not capable of detecting other STIs such as chlamydia and syphilis, the kits are not intended to replace full sexual health checks. Nevertheless, their potential to engage gay men in taking better control of their status could be a key strategy in the mission to ending HIV.

And what’s more, no old magazines to read.

Find out more about the study findings here.