Policy Brief

The Use of HIV Over-the Counter (OTC) test in California from April to September 2013

January 3, 2023

Approval in mid-2012 of a consumer-controlled OTC HIV test by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for drug and medical device approval for sales to the public, has made real the possibility of learning one’s HIV status in the privacy of one’s home. Now, people who are concerned about the potential embarrassment or stigma associated with receiving an HIV test from their medical provider or in a publicly-funded HIV testing site can bypass these issues to obtain a 20-minute test result if they were willing to spend the $40-$50 to purchase an OTC HIV test at a retail pharmacy. This is the latest step in the evolution on of HIV testing since it first became available in 1985; now, HIV screening is no longer a cumbersome process and now doesn’t require the involvement of a medical provider or community-based testing center.