Friday, November 25, 2005
Steamboat Springs Few things are more nerve-wracking than waiting for the results of an HIV test. Even if you are 99 percent sure the test will come back negative, there's always the fear that it won't, and the imagination runs wild.
In the past, people had to wait two weeks to get results from tests taken in Steamboat Springs. The test required a small blood sample, which was sent to Denver to be analyzed.
"That waiting period was really stressful for people," said Aimee Quadri, health center manager for Planned Parenthood of Steamboat Springs. "In fact, we were finding that a lot of people weren't ever returning to get their results."
For almost a year, Planned Parenthood has been able to provide an oral test that takes only 20 minutes for results.
The test, called Oraquick, is taken with a white swab run across the gums. The swab collects antibodies that are tested in the next room. "It's extremely accurate," Quadri said. "We're really happy to have it, because people stick around for the results; it's less stressful, and there is no finger-poking."
The test works much like a home pregnancy test, with a line that shows up in the window if the test is positive.
The Oraquick test is a preliminary test. If the results come back positive for HIV, a blood sample will be taken and sent to Denver for confirmation.
Planned Parenthood will offer discounted $15 HIV tests Thursday in recognition of World AIDS Day. The test is oral, and results are ready in 20 minutes. Appointments are suggested, but walk-ins are welcome at 1104 B 11th St. Call 879-2212.
The Oraquick test costs $37 if taken with other tests for sexually transmitted diseases or $64 if taken on its own.
For World AIDS Day on Thursday, Planned Parenthood will offer the test for $15. People can make appointments or walk into the clinic at 1104 B 11th St.
"We don't see a lot of positive HIV tests in Steamboat. We see a lot of other STDs," Quadri said. "But sexually active people need to know their HIV status."
There is a window period between infection and the test's ability to pick up the HIV antibodies, Quadri said. If someone is worried about unsafe sex during the weekend, he or she needs to wait for three months before the test is effective.
While people are waiting for the results of their tests, Planned Parenthood staff give them a risk assessment and discuss a risk-reduction plan.
"For a lot of people, a negative AIDS test is seen as a clean slate," Quadri said.