Talking about home testing for HIV

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A story about this quick, easy, and painless test

A few months ago, I had a panic about some stupid unsafe sexual encounters I’d had a few weeks previously. I messaged the guys I had met (who I hadn’t known before), and whilst most told me they were HIV-negative (though from their behaviour at the time I have a feeling they just didn’t know), one guy told me he was positive, but undetectable and could not transmit the virus.

During this time, the panic came from nowhere, and was very unlike me. Most of the panic actually came from those that said they were negative or didn’t know their status rather than the guy who said he was undetectable (though I do wish he had told me beforehand). I needed to get tested straight away. I was not in a position to go to a GP and our local GUM clinic is generally unhelpful and impossible to get an appointment. I just felt so LONELY – I couldn’t talk about it with anyone. I had never felt so much regret, sadness, and anger at myself.

I searched online through blurred vision and found mention of the Biosure test kit. I read so many reviews and comments on this site and others, and eventually bought it, hoping it would arrive the next day. Despite being within the 3 month window still for antibodies to be produced, I wanted to test as early as I could (even knowing the result may not be reliable). For the rest of the day and night I tried – but failed – to relax.

The entire next day I paced around the house waiting for the test to arrive, but by the evening I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I set myself up for another sleepless night, knowing that it MUST arrive the next day.

Late the next afternoon, the plain grey package arrived through the letterbox. I picked it up and, with shaking hands, read the instructions and information. The instructions were so simple and clear to follow (even in my state). Sampling the blood and starting the test was even easier and faster than reading the instructions. I laid down on the sofa and tried to watch YouTube whilst I waited. 15 minutes later, I returned to the test slowly and read the results. One line; it was one of the biggest feelings of relief I’d ever had.

Despite being happy about the result, I knew the test wasn’t conclusive. I hastily read around trying to find evidence of test reliability at different stages within the 3 month window, but knew it would be impossible for me or anyone else to guess whether I’d be one of those who generate antibodies early enough to be detectable by the test.

For the few weeks afterwards I tried to put the test to the back of my mind. I did experience some flu-like symptoms, and my mind always went back to what it might be, but it was November, and lots of people around me had the symptoms too, so I tried to focus on that.

This week marks the 3 months since the last worrisome encounter, and I ordered another Biosure test. This time, it did arrive the next day (today). I quickly read the instructions to check if they had changed since last time, and did the test. Whilst waiting, I knew that the ‘window period’ meant that this test would be conclusive, and I vowed I would tell my story here either way (as asked-for by the card accompanying the test).

15 minutes later I checked the result, and was again greatly relieved to see that it was negative (one line). In laying the test down, I did notice a small orange ‘smudge’ appear just below some of the covering in the test strip, but I found an online discussion that explained this was just the chemicals moving around now the test was horizontal.

Although the test may not be 100% accurate, I now feel confident about my status. I know my experiences over the past few months will forever change my attitude towards safe sex with other people for the better, and also towards those bravely living with HIV around the world, especially where healthcare is less-readily available and where social stigma still means such people (wrongly) feel guilt and persecution for their innocent actions.

These tests are vital for the ongoing cause to eliminate HIV transmission and to end the stigma that people living with HIV face everyday from themselves and others. The more people that can be taught about the virus, and the more people that are aware of their status, and take subsequent steps to get treatment or make sure to have safer sex, the better for everyone.

Even people – like me – who get negative test results, and who have also experienced the panic and stresss that I went through, will change their mindset to ensure that they always think properly about sex, the questions they ask, and the actions they take. This will also help reduce the virus spread.

It is clear that these instant tests need to be made available to all. Thank you to everyone who actively spreads the word about them, and of course to Biosure for taking this very important step.

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