Knowing your HIV status by regularly testing for HIV is one of the keys to END HIV transmission. In Queensland, approximately 20-30% of people are unaware of their HIV status.
In order to increase access to HIV testing, in 2014, the Australian Government announced the lifting of restrictions on HIV self-testing and has amended regulation to allow HIV self-testing devises to be sold in Australia. However, devices still need to be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which has yet to occur.
There are two types of HIV self-testing kits available: home testing and home sampling. Home testing involves taking a mouth swab or finger prick and interpreting your own results. Home sampling involves taking a mouth swab or finger prick and mailing it to a laboratory, which makes the results available either by phone, text message, or online.
Order Your Home Testing Kit
You can order a home testing kit from Queensland Positive People here: www.qpp.org.au/self-testing. The test you’ll receive in the mail is an OraQuick Oral HIV Antibody test performed by placing a swab on the lining of your mouth. Results take just 20 minutes to process. If you have any questions in regards to ordering your home testing kit, please contact Queensland Positive People (QPP) on 07 3013 5566.
Using HIV Self-Testing Kits from Overseas
The Foundation acknowledges that individuals may choose to buy self-testing kits from overseas for personal use in Australia. If you are doing this there are a few issues to consider:
- Choosing a safe and credible self-testing kit is very important as they may vary substantially in terms of quality and accuracy. Some kits have not been clinically proven to detect HIV and may provide inaccurate results. Exposure to heat during shipping processes can also affect performance of the test.
- Approval: Orasure’s OraQuick (home test) and the Home Access HIV-1 by Home Access Health Corp (home sample) are the only self-testing kits approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for home use in the USA. Devices have yet to be approved in France and the United Kingdom.
- Window Period: It can take some time for the test to detect HIV in your body and this time can vary from person to person. This time period is commonly referred to as the ‘window period’. What this means is that this test will not cover the risks you may have taken in the past 12 weeks, such as condomless anal and/or vaginal sex, sharing needles or syringes, or other possible exposure to HIV.
If You Get a Reactive HIV Result:
- If you get a reactive (positive) result from a self-testing kit, the result will need to be confirmed by a laboratory blood test by a General Practitioner or sexual health clinic. To locate your nearest HIV specialist visit the END HIV clinic search tool.
- HIV is a serious infection but advances in treatments mean people with HIV can lead long and healthy lives. If the confirmatory test is also positive, your doctor can help you get the treatment and care needed to stay healthy. Seeing a doctor is important even if you don’t feel sick.
- If you want to talk to someone about a reactive or positive result during business hours you can call Queensland Positive People (QPP) on 1800 636 241. They offer a range of support and referral services.
- If you want to talk to someone outside of business hours, then please call the HIV Peer Education and Testing Officers (Tuesday – Friday 3-8pm and Saturday 12-5pm) on 07 3013 5566 or Lifeline’s 24 hour crisis counselling service: 13 11 14.