The first ever at-home HIV testing kit is now in stores! I know what you’re thinking: “HOORAY! Now I can be terrified in my living-room instead of in a doctor’s office!” But seriously, it’s actually pretty cool that people don’t have to deal with doctor’s offices, awkward waiting rooms and result phone calls that often take way too long.
With all it has going for it you’d think that this product sells itself. but then you’d be wrong. OraQuick has a calming yet up-beat commercial to convince you that HIV testing at home can not only be less stressful, it will be downright ordinary.
But is it just me or did you also feel like you were transported to 1991 and forced to watch a weird version of Michael Jackson’s Black or White video? What is up with the floating busts telling me that HiV isn’t a “black thing?” I appreciate that the commercial is trying to dispel the myth that HIV is only contracted by certain populations but I don’t know that super attractive racially ambiguous actors and soothing music is really the way to do it. The not great thing is that in the midst all of the commercials diversity and declarations we kind of forget that there is no mention of gender or latin@s and Asians. HIV must not really be their “thing.”
What about the fact that HIV kind of IS a black thing? According to the Center for Disease Control African Americans are the racial group most affected by HIV/AIDS, they comprise of 44% of all new HIV infections. Black woman are disproportionately affected as compared to other women with their estimated rate of new HIV infections being 15 times as high as the rate for white women, and more than three times as high as that of Latina women.
Interestingly enough the commercial features a black woman saying “it’s not a straight thing.” However, most women are infected with HIV through heterosexual sex with black women being at the highest risk.
Having a white man with hipster glasses exclaim “it’s not a gay thing” is just unimaginative marketing. Men who have sex with men are still the highest risk group for HIV and accounted for 61% of new infections in 2009. Making white men the face of gayness in the commercial also makes invisible the fact that gay and bisexual black men are the most disproportionately affected by HIV.
Thanks to OraQuick we can lay on our twin beads and sift through our HIV testing instructions instead of sifting through a 5 month old issue of US Weekly in the doctors office. Now if we could just get rid of that pesky inequality, that really would be “the best thing.”
SOUND OFF! Tell us what you think about OraQuick’s commercial. Do you think marketing at-home HIV testing kits to *everyone* will encourage the groups most at risk to buy the test? Does the commericial make you want to go out and buy or fast forward your DVR?
Statistics taken from Center for Disease Control and Prevention
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My only concern with home testing kits is linking people to care once they test positive. By testing from home, an individual is less likely to find the care they need.