By Tech. Sgt. Albertina Walker
2nd Aero Medical Support Sqadron
The rapid, home self-collection testing kit for HIV was recently introduced by the U.S. Air Force as a way for military members to find out their status outside of the mandatory screening processes.
With approximately one-third of the United States population unaware of their HIV infection status, the voluntary HIV self-collection may lead to an earlier diagnosis of an HIV infection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that individuals with a higher risk of acquiring HIV be tested at least annually. HIV screening by self-collection utilizes a blood sample obtained by a finger stick and mitigates barriers related to privacy, fear, and lack of convenience. This version of testing does not serve as an alternative or replacement for the mandated HIV screening.
To request an HIV screening test, Airmen can contact the U.S. Air Force HIV Medical Evaluation Unit at the San Antonio Military Medical Center by email: IDVirtualHealth@mail.mil or phone: 210-916-5554; DSN 429.
A personal kit with instructions, testing materials and a pre-paid envelope for mailing the sample to the HIV Diagnostics and Reference Laboratory at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research will be provided. At this time, the voluntary HIV self-collection test is only available to active duty members. For additional information regarding the HIV self-collection test contact Public Health at 456-6599.