What is OraQuick?
Oraquick is the world’s first At-Home HIV Test. After a long period of controversy concerning the morality of individuals having access to at-home HIV tests, the FDA finally approved Oraquick in 2012.¹ Its approval demonstrates that progress has been made towards the gradual normalization of a once highly stigmatized virus. Dealing with the hassle and public stigma of visiting a health profession is no longer the only option available to individuals, thereby making people more likely to get tested for HIV. Oraquick is unique because it is fast, inexpensive, and allows individuals to use the privacy of their homes to learn whether or not they are HIV positive. This device is expected to become available to people all across the United States with more than 30,000 pharmacies, grocery stores, and online retailers supplying it. However, international availability is limited.⁵
How it works:
Oraquick works via mouth swab and its results are available within 20 to 40 minutes. ² A person simply swipes the test along their gumline and then inserts the swab inside the test tube provided. Oraquick is also different because it does not detect the virus itself, rather, it detects the antibodies for HIV. ⁴ If the C-line on the device turns dark, then that is an indication that the test is working properly, but if no C-line appears then that is an indication that the test is malfunctioning. In other words, a C-line should appear every time, regardless of whether the result is positive (meaning HIV antibodies have been detected) or negative (meaning HIV antibodies have not been detected). A negative result occurs when only the C-line appears, but a positive result occurs when both the T-line and C-line appear. The T-line emerges as a result of the collection of HIV antibodies in the sample. However, any positive result should be confirmed by a health professional.
(Positive Result on the Left and Negative Result on the Right)
Although Oraquick is revolutionary in its efforts to promote and normalize HIV testing, the test itself is not always 100% accurate. Since oral fluid has lower levels of antibodies than in blood, oral fluid tests are less accurate at testing for more recent exposure to HIV.² Despite this drawback, Oraquick remains a very effective way to detect HIV as researchers have found the home test to be accurate 99.98% of the time for those who do not have the virus and over 92% accurate in detecting those who do have the virus.¹ As a result of this margin of error, it is highly recommended that individuals receive secondary confirmation from a health professional after receiving a positive result. With that being said, Oraquick remains a useful public health asset in helping to prevent the transmission of HIV since it is estimated that nearly 20% of the 1.2 million infected Americans do not know they have the disease. ¹ It is important to discover whether or not an individual is HIV positive because the sooner it is discovered the sooner that person can start receiving treatment.
Oraquick is the first step in normalizing the practice of HIV testing. As it continues to improve, the hope is that the prevention of HIV transmission and development of treatment methods will improve as well. Ultimately, education and awareness of safe sex practices remains one of the greatest asset in helping to combat HIV transmission.
1. McNeil, Jr. Donald. “Rapid H.I.V. Home Test Wins Federal Approval” NY Times. Health, 3 July 2015.Web. 10 October 2016.
2. "Home Tests." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Oct. 2015. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.
3. @HealthIsBeauty_. "OraQuick & What It Means for Girls and Women."Myhealthisbeautiful. Wordpress, 26 Feb. 2014. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.
4. "How Oral Testing Works." How Oral HIV Testing Works. Oraquick, 2016. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.
5. Shattner, Elaine. "This At-Home HIV Test Looks Simple, but Is It Accurate?" The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 9 July 2012. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.
Last updated: 10 October 2016