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

HIV self-testing is big news and making a difference not only for individuals but also for being able to get a lot more people to test.

Engage Men’s Health offers free oral 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 instruction 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 of you should use separate test kits 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.
  • 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, for a confirmation test, free PrEP or if you have any other questions or concerns call, message, WhatsApp or send a ‘please call me’ (office hours): 060 985 6008.
  • Seventy-seven 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 unmanaged anxiety and the potential for suicide. 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 effective ARV treatment is and HIV is seen as a manageable chronic condition and is no longer a life sentence.” The test includes helpline numbers for people to get support if necessary.
  • Self-testing kits checks 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 if you have one sex partner to test yearly. If you have multiple partners, you should check every three months/or 12 weeks to make sure you know your status.
  • What should I do if I test positive? Don’t panic! 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? Great news! 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!

Get your FREE HIV self-testing kit for yourself (and your partner, too) from our clinic at 27 Boxes in Melville, Johannesburg (call 010 500 0934), our outreach teams in Joburg, Nelson Mandela Bay (call 010 534 8428) and Buffalo City (call 010 534 8366) or at selected venues in these metros.