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Elizabeth Boskey, Ph.D.

The Price of Progress

By November 2, 2012

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According to news reports, the price of one of the new, over-the-counter home HIV test kits is running at about $40 per test at local pharmacies. That seems like a very high price to pay for convenience, particularly when so many areas offer free, anonymous HIV testing at local clinics. You can even search for the most convenient, free testing location online -- at HIVTest.org.

Mind you, it's good to have options, and I imagine that there are a large number of people who will feel more comfortable testing in the privacy of their own homes. There's definitely an appeal to being able to do so quickly and easily, without having to wait in a clinic office or share concerns with a doctor. However, it's important for everyone to remember that cheaper, and even free, options for HIV testing are often easily available. Cost shouldn't be a barrier to HIV testing.

(It's also important to remember that a box of condoms will set you back well under forty bucks. It's a good idea to buy one along with your HIV test, particularly if you're planning on using it to check out a potential sex partner. The over-the-counter test can't pick up the new infections that may pose the highest risk of transmission. That means you shouldn't use it as an excuse to practice unprotected sex.)

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