In the News / Politics:

HIV Test: Making a Difference

By: Sang Hyo Kim, Staff Editor

On June 27, 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),, and other national and local entities organized the 19th annual National HIV Testing Day. On this day, the theme of “Take the Test, Take Control” was employed to spread awareness of testing and prevention methods to those at risk of contracting HIV.1

The National HIV Testing Day was launched in 1995 and was created by the National Association of People with AIDS in response to the growing number of HIV infections in communities of color and other heavily impacted communities.2 Approximately 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, one in five of whom do not know they are infected.1

HIV testing is a crucial first step in taking control and responsibility of one’s health. The U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that everyone from the ages of 15 to 65 should be screened for HIV. Those younger than 15 and older than 65 years of age should also be screened if they are at a high risk of infection. The CDC also recommends that homosexuals and bisexuals, people with multiple partners, or those who use intravenous drugs get tested at least once a year. Further data from the CDC suggests that sexually active gay and bisexual men can benefit more if they get tested every three to six months. Getting tested allows people to know their HIV status and, if infected, get proper medical treatment and prevent HIV transmission to others.3

Getting tested is simple because primary doctors can perform the test. There are also two FDA-approved tests that can be used at home: Home Access HIV-1 Test System and OraQuick in-Home HIV Test.4,5 The Home Access HIV-1 Test System, the only current home kit to be clinically proven more than 99.9% accurate, can be found in most drug stores and involves collecting a finger stick blood sample and sending it to a licensed laboratory, and calling in later for results.4 Customers are given an identification number and can speak to a counselor while waiting for results. If an individual is tested positive, he or she is provided with referral for a follow-up confirmatory test, and is also provided with other treatment and support services.4

The OraQuick in-Home HIV Test, found online and in stores, is a rapid home-use HIV test kit that does not require sending a sample to a laboratory for analysis.  It provides results in 20-40 minutes by using a swab of oral fluid from the gums.4 The test is not as efficient as the Home Access HIV-1-Test system because it can give false negatives if tested within three months of infection.5 People who test positive must perform a follow-up confirmatory test before a final diagnosis of infection can be made.5

The CDC’s effort to increase HIV testing is not only made on an annual National HIV Testing Day. In 2010, the CDC implemented new phases of its successful Expanded Testing Initiative by funding thirty health departments to focus on increasing HIV testing among African Americans, Latinos, gays and bisexuals, as well as injection users of all ethnicities. Additionally, the CDC’s “Act Against AIDS” (AAA) aims to expand HIV testing by raising awareness to all Americans and reducing infection among the hardest-hit populations.3

With the emphasis on HIV testing by the CDC and other local and national organization, everyone should be proactive and opt to be tested. By getting tested and encouraging friends and families to do the same, transmission can be prevented and early treatment is possible. With a collaborative effort, everyone can be closer to an AIDS free generation. For more information on HIV testing, and HIV/AIDS related question, please visit the site:


  1. National HIV Testing Day. Accessed July 6th, 2013
  2. On National HIV Testing Day, HHC Urges New Yorkers to “Take the Test, Take Control”. HHC. Published June 25th, 2013. Accessed August 27th, 2013.
  3. Get Tested on National HIV Testing Day. CDC. Accessed July 6th, 2013
  4. Vaccines, Blood & Biologics. FDA. Updated October 2nd, 2012 Accessed August 27th, 2013
  5. First Rapid Home-Use HIV Kit Approved for Self-Testing. Food and Drug Administration. Last Updated April 12, 2013. Accessed August 27th, 2013
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