Confidential, in-home test kits for HIV available in Bergen County

Source: North Jersey

A do-it-yourself test for HIV/AIDS that can be done in the privacy of one’s home is available free to residents of Bergen County, under a grant from the state Health Department.

The OraQuick oral HIV test can be obtained in person or by mail from the Bergen County Health Department, or a code can be requested to purchase it at no charge from the OraQuick website, said Susan Crandall, the county’s HIV counseling and testing program coordinator. Results are confidential.

The grant application was submitted because “people weren’t getting tested during the pandemic,” when the department’s testing location was closed, Crandall said. The county received a $107,000 grant for the tests as part of a pilot program from the state Health Department.

About 100 tests are projected to be used, and 10 have already been distributed, Crandall said. In 2018, the last year for which figures are available, 51 county residents were diagnosed with HIV or AIDS.

New Jersey had nearly 38,000 people living with HIV as of Dec. 31, 2018. Of those, 1,844 lived in Bergen County, giving it one of the lowest prevalence rates in the state for HIV. Most of those Bergen County residents were white men who became infected with HIV through sexual contact with other men, according to state data.

Five other agencies received grants for the in-home test kits. They are the Burlington County Health Department, CompleteCare Health Network, the African American Office of Gay Concerns, Rutgers University, and VNA, a visiting nurse service.

The test uses a test strip that is swabbed over the gums and placed in a test tube of reactive liquid. It takes 20 minutes for results, which are shown when one or two lines appear on the test strip. No blood is drawn. If a person tests positive, a confirmatory test should be conducted by a physician or health facility.

To be eligible for the free test kit, a person must be at least 17 years old, have not previously tested positive for HIV, and not be using Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a medicine taken to prevent HIV. The window for testing after an exposure is about 23 to 90 days, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further information is available at the county’s HIV counseling hotline, 201-336-3350.

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