News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- David Thompson travels around the area and tests people for HIV free of charge, but he knows it can be a tough subject.
"I know there are some people that are never going to see me or come to see anyone to get tested," Thompson said.
Which is why he is glad that Oraquick, the same test he uses in the field, is now available at your local pharmacy for the first time ever.
He says it's an easy test.
"You just simply rub it along your gums, top and bottom, and then I have a tube of developer solution that I put it in and develop," Thompson said.
And 20 minutes later, you have your results.
The real benefit of this new test is that you can take it in the comfort of your own home, but while it seems like a convenient choice, there are a few downsides.
"What I don't like about it is the idea that someone might get the test, test themselves at home, and find out that they're positive, and be alone at that time," Thompson said.
Thompson said he knows those thoughts all too well. He's been HIV positive for 24 years.
"They usually start thinking, life is over, that's it, I'm not going to be able to do anything I want to anymore," he said.
But Thompson says that is no longer the case. It's now a very treatable disease and a very prevalent one in the CSRA. The Augusta area has the second-highest HIV rate in the state.
"Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina are all in the top 10 for infection rates in the country," he said.
Another issue with the test is temperature control. It has to be stored between 36 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit to be effective.
He warns, "Don't buy it during the summer, shop all day and take it home and use it."
Another downside is the cost: About $40 for one test. But Thompson says you can find their schedule for free testing online at csrasafetynet.org.
But, he says, overall, this is a good thing, saying, "Hopefully, it will end up getting some people into care that need it. And if it gets one person into care that needs it, it's worthwhile."