This is your new selfie stick – HIV self-testing is here

Engage Men’s Health offers free oral HIV self-testing kits that allow you to test where and when it suits you.

Simply swipe the tester stick on the inside of your mouth and you’ll get a quick update on your HIV status. (You’ll receive more detailed instructions with your kit.)

Here are some benefits in choosing self-testing and other interesting facts:

  • Self-testing is without queues or potential loss of confidentiality or privacy which a lot of people fear when going to a public testing site.
  • The test can be done by yourself, with partners or with friends. Self-testing allows for people to get their own support structures rather than relying on a stranger, like a nurse or healthcare worker.
  • Each person should use a separate test kit and conduct the test as indicated in the instructions provided.
  • HIV-self tests are 99% accurate but if you receive a positive result, the test must be confirmed at a health facility.
  • More than 70 countries have adopted HIV self-testing policies, while many others are currently developing them.
  • According to the WHO (World Health Organisation), self-testing has been shown to nearly double the frequency of HIV testing among men who have sex with men.
  • In the past, it was believed that if people didn’t get counselling if they tested positive, it could potentially increase their risk of anxiety and stress. Pre- and post-test counselling was very important years ago when there was very little to offer patients who tested positive. These days we know how easy and effective ARV treatment is and HIV is seen as a manageable chronic condition. The test kit includes helpline numbers for people to get support if necessary.
  • Self-testing kits check for the antibodies that your body makes to fight HIV. There is a window period of between six weeks to three months after infection before the body starts to produce these antibodies. Therefore it is important to test regularly.
  • The chances are very slim but not impossible that a test can give a positive result but then give a negative result when tested again. This can happen for all sorts of reasons and is known as a false positive test result. This is why it is so important you get your positive result confirmed by a healthcare worker or doctor who will retest you using a different type of test.
  • It is recommended that you test yearly or every six months if you have one sex partner. If you have multiple partners, you should test every three months to make sure you know your status.
  • We request that you send us a picture of your test result (anonymously if you prefer), whether it’s positive or negative, so that we know that the kits are being used. To send us your test results, or for a confirmation test, or for free PrEP or if you have any other questions or concerns, call or WhatsApp or send a ‘please call me’ (office hours): 082 607 1686.
  • What should I do if I test positive? Keep calm! Contact us for a confirmation test. If your result is confirmed, we’ll supply you with free ARV medicine to keep you healthy, the HIV under control and your partners safe.
  • What should I do it I test negative? To stay negative, we recommend you start taking PrEP, the daily HIV prevention pill from Engage Men’s Health. It’s free, easy and very effective, even without the use of condoms!

Collect your FREE HIV self-testing kit for yourself and for your partner or friend from our clinic at 27 Boxes in Melville, Johannesburg (call 010 500 0934) or our offices in Nelson Mandela Bay (call 010 534 8428) or Buffalo City (call 010 534 8366). For any other questions, call or WhatsApp 082 607 1686.