Testing for HIV is now as easy as seeing if you're pregnant.
One prick and 15 minutes can make all the difference, thanks to a new HIV self-testing kit.
There are a record-breaking 35 million people in the world today living with HIV.
Despite what the movies might have you believe, HIV/AIDS didn't go the way of Hammer pants and suddenly disappear in the early '90s (can you imagine if they had swapped places though?). In fact, the virus now affects more people than ever.
In the United States alone, there are 1.2 million people living with HIV — and 10% to 20% of them don't even know it.
HIV itself is not a death sentence (but you should still practice safe sex).
It took a while for the public at large to become aware of HIV and AIDS. And even then, many people are still under the impression that HIV means you are steps away from death.
But thanks to new medical advancements, that's not really true. People with HIV can live happy, healthy lives for 50 years or more with the proper treatment and care.
That said, you should still do what you can to stop the virus before it gets into your system (if possible). Which means wrap it before you tap it, or whatever your sex-respective version of that phrase might be.
It also means you should get tested. But here's some good news: HIV testing just got a whole lot easier.
Many people are too embarrassed or afraid to get tested for STIs, including HIV.
A show of hands: How many of you have been tested for STIs and/or HIV? It's hard for me to count since I'm communicating with you via words on a screen.
But I bet that less than half of you put your hands up — despite the fact that half of you have or will have contracted an STI at some point in your life.
So why didn't you raise your hand? It turns out, most people don't get tested simply because they're too embarrassed, or because a trip to the doctor is just plain inconvenient.
Fortunately, a company in the U.K. just created a new HIV test that allows you to test yourself at home.
BioSure's new HIV self-testing kit is shipped directly to your home in a discreet white box and delivers results in just 15 minutes with a 99.7% accuracy rate.
It's the first of its kind to comply with E.U. safety, health, and environmental requirements, and it costs only £29.99, or about $46 (keep in mind that they also regulate haggis over there). Here's how it works:
The test functions much like a pregnancy test: identifying antibodies produced by the virus, rather than looking for the virus itself.
Instead of looking for that sneaky human immunodeficiency virus directly, the kit scans your blood sample for the antibodies produced as a result of the virus' presence.
Prior to this, it was possible to get your hands on a self-sampling kit, but you had to send it to a lab so they could process the results, and the test required you to draw a blood sample that was about 160 times larger than the BioSure (ow).
But remember: You do have to wait three months after possibly contracting the virus for the test to work.
If you use the HIV self-testing kit before three months have passed since (potentially) contracting the virus, your body will not have had the time to produce enough antibodies to yield a positive result.
(If you're concerned about your health and the health of those to whom you could potentially pass the virus, you should probably seek out a medical professional.)
Why is this so awesome? Because an increase in early diagnoses could help prevent the spread of the virus.
The math is simple: When more people know they have a virus, they can all take preventive measures to stop spreading it.
That means fewer people will contract HIV. Everybody wins!