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Oklahoma is joining just six other states in providing free self tests for HIV. The program’s aim is to reduce HIV infections in the state. Oklahoma is one of seven states with high HIV rates among rural residents.
Additionally, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) reports that over the last five years, 20% of newly-diagnosed cases of HIV are in people who are “late testers.” Late testing means the risk of passing the virus is high.
The at-home HIV test kits will be provided in protective packaging that does not contain information about the contents. This helps maintain anonymity and confidentiality. The packages will also contain information about HIV, as well as ways to mitigate the spread of the virus.
A progressive solution in a conservative state
The initiative is a progressive method for people to learn their HIV status as early as possible. This allows people to potentially begin treatment early for the virus. The at-home kit also allows for people to feel more comfortable while testing for HIV.
According to William Andrews with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, “The great thing about the HIV self-test program we launched is that people can do it in the comfort and privacy of their own home. So that doesn’t require going to the doctor’s office, or going to the county health department.”
HIV, once considered a death sentence for people who test positive, is now known as a chronic virus. According to Mr. Andrews, “Making it possible for people to get the treatment they need because you can continue with an HIV diagnosis, the drug therapies that are available today allow people to live happy, healthy, long lives.”
Meanwhile, in addition to the self test, kits will include condoms, lubricant, and educational materials. To order your HIV self test, go to endinghivoklahoma.org or the Oklahoma HIV and Hepatitis Planning Council.