OraQuick & What it Means for Girls and Women

By now  you may have heard of OraQuick, an over  the  counter in-home HIV test. Anyone can buy it and anyone who is sexually active should. This home test not only allows for an increase in privacy but it also lessens people’s apprehension about getting tested. You no longer have to  schedule an appointment and wait  for hours to be seen by a health professional. The test is reliable; however, I  must note that  there  is a chance a person could receive  a “false  positive” result. This means that someone who has HIV may receive results that say otherwise. This does not happen often but it doesn’t hurt to get a 2nd opinion.

This in-home test is a step in the right direction because sexually-active girls and women can now have even more control over their health. Several campaigns such as The Act Against AIDS and One Test Two Lives were created for women. The Act Against AIDS campaign targets African American women as its key demographic. This campaign urges this group of individuals to get tested and know their status, rather than taking their partner’s word for it. African American men are the #1 most affected group of HIV. Men having sex  with men  (MSM) make up a large percentage of this group; please note that some individuals in this group do not always categorize themselves as “gay” or “homosexual” (exclusively having sex with men)  so there is a chance that they are sexually active with women  as well.

There is an extremely significant imbalance in HIV rates of African American males and African American females. This extreme  gap concerns health promoters because this could mean that many women are unaware of their status or unaware of the importance of  getting  tested. African American females are the #1 group among females that are diagnosed with HIV. The Act Against AIDS campaign is important in educating these girls and women and hopefully decreasing rates of virus transmission. Take  charge of your health. Don’t be so quick to  put your health in the hands of another, regardless of how much you love each other. At times, the men are not aware of their status either. In the cases where individuals are aware of their HIV status, they sometimes feel that they will be stigmatized if they reveal it to others. This ends up being way worse, as you can imagine. It is better to reveal your status to your current partner AS WELL AS all past sexual partners. As uncomfortable as it might be, you can save lives by telling the truth. HIV is not a death sentence. Medication has come a long way. So much research has been done on HIV and AIDS; people who discover the virus early and stay dedicated to daily treatment can live full lives.

The One Test. Two Lives. campaign was created for pregnant women. It is important that girls and women who are pregnant get tested for HIV if they are unaware of their status. This is because the health of the baby could be affected in a major way if the mother forgoes testing. If the mother is HIV positive and gets tested, the rate of the baby contracting HIV from the mother could be less than 2%. “How”, you ask? By the help of Antiretroviral Therapy. After the HIV status of the mother is know by healthcare professionals, the baby  will undergo treatment while developing in the womb. After the birth of the baby, HIV positive mothers might wonder if they can breastfeed their non-HIV positive children. The answer is YES 🙂

Don’t believe me?

Please click here for  more info on  HIV positive mothers and breastfeeding: http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/88/1/10-030110/en/

Hopefully this information encourages girls and women to find out what their HIV status is. With OraQuick, finding out your  status is easy and confidential. OraQuick can be purchased at many neighborhood pharmacies and drugstores…. and Walmart (I know… they have everything)

Please educate yourself. Please help to educate others.

The more  we know, the better our outcomes 🙂

P.S. If you are in the Philadelphia area, support ActionAIDS as a volunteer. This organization is dedicated to HIV education, testing and support.

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