A new at home mouth swab HIV test is being used in trial testing in America right now. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. A poll taken by 57 gay and bisexual men over the age of 18 that were sexually active but did not often use condoms showed most men would use an at home test with a potential sex partner.
The researchers also found that most of the men said they would likely ask partners to take an HIV test and might consider safe sex measures if the partner’s response raised doubts about his HIV status.
How the HIV home test works
There is a swab that you scrape inside of your mouth. The test searches for HIV antibodies, not the actual virus. When a person has HIV, his or her immune system produces antibodies in an attempt to kill the virus.
While an infected person’s oral fluid contains hardly any of the HIV virus itself, it does contain plenty of HIV antibodies. Antibodies are a good substance to test because when the immune system produces antibodies in response to the proteins for a specific disease (called antigens) the antibodies bind to those antigens in an attempt to fight off the disease. If you add another protein, or enzyme, into the mix that will react to the binding of antibody to antigen, you have yourself a good test for the disease. That’s basically what the oral HIV test does.
Unfortunately, The tests do not detect the initial, acute stage of HIV infection that lasts for a few weeks.
This at home test is currently pending with the FDA and hopefully will soon become available to, not only gay men, but heterosexual people as well.