HIV's New Medicine Cabinet

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com October 10 2012 3:00 AM ET

Anxiety, denial, and the frustrations over waiting periods are among the reasons some don’t get tested for HIV. OraQuick, considered by many to be the next step in the fight against the virus, may change all that. A recent study found that 84% of gay and bi men say they would administer a self-test if one were available. Now they can. Starting in October, anyone can pick up an at-home HIV test that will let users learn their status right away.

OraQuick is the first at-home rapid test to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and is estimated to cost around $60. However, the test’s accuracy has become a source of concern. While it has an accuracy rate of about 93%, or 3,800 missed HIV-positive diagnoses each year, the test is also estimated to correctly identify about 45,000 HIV-positive people each year, preventing another 4,000 new transmissions.

OraQuick isn’t the only breakthrough HIV news this fall, though. People being treated for HIV for the first time have a new option now that the FDA approved Gilead’s Stribild, a tablet that fuses four drugs into one pill. Stribild (previously known as Quad) combines elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate into a single daily dose.

The pill’s initial price of $28,500 per patient annually raised eyebrows, but after negotiations with AIDS service directors, Gilead agreed to lower it, by a yet unspecified amount, for AIDS Drug Assistance Programs. The cost is about $7,000 more than Gilead combination drug Atripla, approved in 2006.