hiv test costs

HIV Test Costs

Getting tested for HIV is something that every person should do regularly, especially if they belong to any of the risks groups, such as people who practice unprotected sex outside of a monogamous relationship or intravenous drug users. Fortunately, these days one can get tested for HIV fairly easily – it’s a quick, painless test that is offered in a variety of locations in almost every city of the world. You can get tested at your local hospital or health center, at planned parenthood and even in some volunteer organizations. It’s also good to know that there are oral swab HIV tests available currently, so if you don’t feel like getting your blood taken for a test, you can always go for the one examining your saliva.

HIV Test Costs

Many people wrongly think that HIV test costs are high and that the person getting tested is always the one paying for it. Fortunately, it’s not always like this – especially in the United States where the system of health insurance is developed enough to cover such expenses. Even if you don’t have an insurance, the test should be too expensive for you – in most of the cases the prices range between $40 and $60 for a clinical rapid HIV test and may reach $200 for an extended STD testing panel. Plus, there are some volunteer organizations that offer 100% free testing, counseling and even treatment. The only downside to the free offer is the fact that you usually have to schedule an appointment up to 30 days in advance, which is often not acceptable for the people willing to get tested, especially considering all the anxiety they are going through.

It’s also very important to remember about another testing opportunity that people in the US and many other countries of the world have at their disposal. There are at least two HIV test kits designed for home use that have been approved by the FDA – their accuracy reaching 99.9%. Thus, if you don’t feel like going to a hospital to get tested, you can do that at home – all that it takes is a quick trip to the pharmacy (or an even quicker online order) and around $40 in expenses. The results of a home test are obtained within 20 minutes if you are going for the OraQuick oral swab test or in a few days if you choose the Home Access HIV-1 blood test since the latter requires that you send a sample of your blood to a nearby lab.

HIV Test Price Comparison

In the following part of this article we will go through the price offers on home HIV tests from the most popular pharmacies of the United States – Walgreens and CVS. Other sources will also be mentioned in case you would prefer an alternative pharmacy. We by no means recommend you to choose any of the pharmacies mentioned in the text – the price quotes from these two are here solely for informational purposes as they are currently the biggest players in the pharmaceutical retail market of the United States. Additionally, it should be stated that this comparison is based on the data from the online versions of the pharmacies listed above and the prices in brick-and-mortar stores may differ from the ones mentioned here.

Walgreens HIV Test – Home Access HIV-1

Being the most popular blood HIV test designed for home use and the only blood-based home test approved by the FDA, Home Access HIV-1 is expectedly available for purchase at Walgreens – including the online version of the pharmacy. There are two options offered, both identical in terms of testing process and mechanism of action but different in terms of waiting time. The regular Home Access HIV-1 Test system is cheaper ($37.99 a kit, one test per kit) but with it, you are left hanging for about a week, which is how long it takes to deliver your blood specimen to the testing lab and get it analyzed. After that you can obtain your results by phone – your privacy will be 100% guaranteed and post-test counseling will be offered regardless of your test results.

The second option available to people interested in buying the Home Access HIV-1 Test is the Express test, which costs considerably higher ($59.99 for the kit) but gets the results delivered to you in as short as 1 day. The price of the kit includes overnight shipping but you should remember that this option doesn’t work during weekends and holidays.

Overall, Home Access HIV-1 kit is a great choice – although it requires you to draw a sample of blood from your own finger, it’s very easy to do and almost painless. It also offers 99.9% reliable results, which is comparable to getting tested in a laboratory.

CVS HIV Test – Home Access HIV-1

Unfortunately, at this moment CVS doesn’t sell Home Access HIV-1 home tests. Judging from the Google search results, this product used to be a part of their inventory earlier but is not currently available for purchase there. We don’t know if CVS is going to get back to selling the Home Access HIV test systems again in the nearest future but we will keep monitoring their website and will correct this article in case it’s required.

HIV Tests at CVS – OraQuick

Fortunately, if you want to get tested for HIV and if CVS is your primary pharmacy of choice, there’s still at least 1 other option that you can opt for. We’re talking about the OraQuick tests, which are indeed sold at CVS at a relatively low price of $43.99. Many people prefer OraQuick tests not only because they are cheaper than, say, Home Access HIV-1 Express but also because they allow you to obtain the results in as short as 20 minutes, don’t require sending your body fluid specimens to a lab and actually use your saliva as specimen for testing. This, you won’t have to prick your finger but will only need to swab your gums for saliva with a special testing stick included in the kit, put it into the receptor (also included) and get your results mere 20 minutes later.

On the other hand, despite all the obvious advantages, OraQuick tests have a few major drawbacks too. First of all, they may not be as accurate as blood tests – in fact, current researches show that they are only 91.7% accurate in detective positive results, which means that almost 1 in 10 HIV negative people tested with OraQuick will get false-negative results. In most of the cases false-negative results are due to either testing too early (less than 3 months after the exposure) or to not swabbing the gum line as stated in the test instructions. Thus, if you choose to test yourself with OraQuick oral test, make sure you’re using it in full accordance with the manual. If it’s been less than 3 months after your potential exposure, you can also test now but you will definitely need a confirmatory re-test when the window period is over.

HIV Test Walgreens – OraQuick

Since we have already given a fairly detailed description of OraQuick test in the above paragraphs, we will omit the specs and move straight on to the most interesting part for the purposes of comparison – the price. The test is sold at $43.99 here, which means the price is identical to that at CVS. Thus, if you have to choose between the two pharmacies, feel free to pick the one that is the closest to you or the one that you like more – the prices are the same in both anyway.

HIV Test Costs in Other Stores

Compared to the prices at CVS and Walgreens, other suppliers can offer significantly lower prices for both the OraQuick and the Home Access kits. For instance, we have found OraQuick prices just under $36 on Amazon and comparable ones in other online and offline pharmacies. That doesn’t mean, however, that the sources that sell the test cheapest are always the best. Please, take the process of shopping for home HIV tests seriously and pay extra attention in order to avoid purchasing low-quality tests from shady suppliers. Never use expired tests and tests that show signs of being tampered with as the results they show may be inaccurate.

We hope the information provided in this article will make the process of buying a home HIV test at least a little easier for you and also allow you to save some money. Now that you know how much these tests cost, you can always make sure you’re not overpaying.

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