April 20, 2012
Home test kits for pregnancy, blood glucose, and cholesterol are among the many available to consumers who want more involvement in their own health care. According to Iain Buxton at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, their convenience and accessibility may help diagnose conditions earlier and lead to more effective treatment.
Home Access Health Corp.'s home HIV test kit, the only such product approved by the Food and Drug Administration, retails for about $60. According to company President Mary Vogt, the consumer sends a finger-stick blood sample to the company's accredited lab via a prepaid mailer. To obtain test results, the individual calls a toll-free number and provides a code number.
Whether results are positive or negative, consumers may receive them from and speak to trained counselors. Individuals who have positive results receive more counseling and referrals, and they are encouraged to follow-up with their health care provider.
Rick Reich, a communicable-disease manager with the Southern Nevada Health District's office of HIV/AIDS/STD, said that while home HIV tests are "well-meaning," local counselors can be more helpful to newly diagnosed patients. He added that an HIV diagnosis often causes people to shut down emotionally and avoid treatment.
Dr. David Park, chair of the primary care department at Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine, said anyone who receives a positive result on a home test should arrange to discuss the results with a doctor. Moreover, the results of a home test, like any test, can be falsely negative or positive. Park noted that accurate test results hinge on the consumer following the instructions correctly.