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Home testing kits for HIV and STDs making testing more available in rural communities

Alaskans can now test at home for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases with the at-home...
Alaskans can now test at home for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases with the at-home testing kit “Ora-Quick” that is being offered by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the state health department.(Georgina Fernandez)
Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 7:25 PM AKST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2021 at 12:40 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaskans can now test at home for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases with the at-home testing kit “Ora-Quick” being offered by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

Testing kits come with everything people would need, health care workers say. All that people need to do is provide their own timer for the test. The test, they say, would allow people to feel more comfortable when taking the test.

“So these tests do provide increased options and availability for people to test discreetly, in the privacy of whatever location that they choose,” said Hannah Warren, HIV and STD prevention program manager with the consortium. “It does provide people with increased access to testing as well.”

Health care workers say that the kit comes at a perfect time, after many testing opportunities were suspended due to COVID-19. Allowing those who live in rural areas of the state easier access to getting tested.

“There can be a lot of fear around confidentiality, so the ability to just order a kit online or through a nurse case manager and have it mailed to your house where you can do it in the privacy of your house can really be a game-changer for people who don’t feel comfortable going into a clinic setting, or don’t have the means to travel into a hub community to get tested in a different clinic,” said Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association Executive Director Robin Lutz.

At the same time, it helps break down the stigma surrounding sexually transmitted diseases or infections.

“This should be something that everybody feels comfortable and safe knowing about and being able to access information about, and then using in whatever way works best for them,” Lutz said. “We know that early detection for HIV means your quality of life will be better and longer, so we really want people to know that there are ways to get access to your status and use that information that can both keep your status confidential in your community, but also reduce the amount of stigma you experience.”

Those interested in purchasing a kit can visit Iwantthekit.org. HIV self-test kits can be obtained at iknowmine.org.

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