More than three decades after the first cases were recognized and diagnosed, a new wave of technology has evolved in the global fight to stop HIV/AIDS.
More than 30,000 stores nationwide last month began selling the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, manufactured by the Bethlehem, Pa.-based OraSure Technologies. The new test, which is also available for purchase online, allows people to test themselves for HIV/AIDS at home. The results are revealed within 20 minutes of swabbing the inside of the mouth, a company spokeswoman said.
“This is the same exact test as the rapid test you would receive at any doctor’s office or clinic around the country,” said Debra Fraser-Howze, vice-president of government relations for OraSure. “It’s a convenient, painless test that…lets you know if you have the antibodies for HIV.”
The product has been in use by medical professionals for a decade now, Fraser-Howze said.
“We encourage the traditional testing options and this product is not to displace those methods, but there are some people who don’t have time to get to a doctor’s office,” Fraser-Howze told the AFRO. “There are some people who would prefer to bring the information to their doctor instead of finding out at the doctor’s office.”
A positive result means that the HIV antibodies have been detected and confirmatory testing is needed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, HIV infection rates in the Black community have continued to soar well above averages for Non-Hispanic Whites and Hispanics.
“African Americans are certainly disproportionately affected by HIV in the United States,” said Nikki Mayes, a spokesperson for the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.
According to data released by the agency, nationally, one out of every 16 African American men will contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. One of every 32 Black women will become infected.
“Within the African American community, gay and bisexual men are most affected, followed by heterosexual women,” said Mayes.
And though Black people make up only 14 percent of the nation’s population, they account for 44 percent of all new diagnoses, officials said.
Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas have been hit hard by the epidemic, but according to information released in December of 2011 by the D.C. Health Department, “there have been no children born with HIV in D.C. since 2009.”
According to the 2011 District of Columbia HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Annual Report, released in June 2012, 14,465 people, or 2.7 percent of the Washington, D.C. area population, are HIV positive.
Every race included in the report had more than one percent of their population living with HIV, meeting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of an epidemic crisis. Only African Americans had 4.3 percent of their population coping with HIV in the Washington, D.C. area.
Baltimore City Health Department statistics from 2011 show that of the 523,765 Baltimoreans aged 13 an older, 5,608 were carriers of HIV without AIDS, another 7,304 are living with AIDS, totaling 12,912 infected residents.
Prince George’s County had 2,299 cases of HIV in residents over 13 and 3,093 cases of full-blown AIDS. All of the patients were over the age of 13, state health department statistics show.