Laboratory Fundamentals

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Updated April 21, 2022
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A rapid HIV test can test for HIV and return the results in a short period of time, usually 20 minutes. There are two kinds of rapid HIV tests: A rapid self-test can be taken in a private location, while a rapid point-of-care test is given at a clinic or healthcare provider’s office.

A rapid self-test can be purchased through a pharmacy or online and performed at home. Currently, there is only one FDA-approved rapid self-test, OraQuick. It provides a kit for users to test their own oral fluid sample for HIV. The other type of rapid test, point-of-care (POC) HIV testing, may involve getting a blood drop from the finger, an oral swab, or a urine sample. It does not require the use of specialized lab equipment, and therefore allows healthcare providers to provide immediate results for those looking for same-day testing.

Many states offer rapid HIV testing for free or at a reduced cost. Visiting a clinic or healthcare provider’s office for POC testing may ensure proper coverage. However, if you purchase a home test online or at a pharmacy, health insurance or Medicaid may not cover the cost

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