DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Mychael Patterson of Dallas considers himself lucky. He’s been living with H.I.V. since 1997 and takes just three pills a day to keep his virus in check.
Patterson says discovering that he was H.I.V. positive early on has been the key to his survival.
So why does he have mixed feelings about the new H.I.V. home-test kit? “There’s no counseling connected to that H.I.V test,” explained Patterson.
The 42-year-old, who does testing, education and counseling for AIDS Arms of Dallas says he supports an option for those who prefer the privacy of their own homes.
However, he fears that a positive result while home alone will send some people into a tailspin. “It’s just too painful to find out that information alone. It’s a big life change,” said Patterson.
David Henderson of Fort Worth agrees. In fact, Henderson is not a fan of the home-test kit at all. “It’s a colossally bad idea.”
Henderson is also living with HIV and says having a counselor or a doctor on hand when the results come in is imperative for a person’s well-being. “We don’t have take-home cancer kits for a reason,” said Henderson. “If you get a positive test result for cancer, then you need to be with someone who can explain what it is and what it isn’t. The same is true for H.I.V.,” he added.
H.I.V. experts worry that some people who test positive at home will keep their results a secret, which poses a health risk to themselves and to others.
Supporters of the home-test kit say the pros far outweigh the cons. Many doctors argue that people who suspect they may be H.I.V. positive are far more likely to test themselves in private. Doctors strongly believe that early detection is the best way to save lives.
The FDA approved the H.I.V. home-test kit earlier this week. The test, made by OraQuick, provides at-home results within 20 to 40 minutes.