OK, But Lick This First

I was talking to a pharma insider the other day who told me that Orasure is getting ready to roll-out an over-the-counter version of their rapid oral swab HIV test kit, possibly as soon as this summer. Home Access currently sells a $35 home kit which requires a blood sample; Johnson & Johnson sold a similar product at one time, but pulled it due to low sales. Orasure’s swab test is already used by clinics nationwide.

According to my source, Orasure plans to price and market their product like a home pregnancy test. Obviously, while everybody should know their HIV status, issues abound here. Ever since the advent of these home kits a few years ago, HIV activists have worried about people committing suicide when getting a positive result without accompanying counseling, not to mention the issue of false-positives. Those are serious concerns.

But I’m more interested in how the Orasure test may change the landscape of dating and relationships. As we know, HIV tests only tell you if you WERE negative several weeks ago. I fear that little detail may be lost on some of the people who pick up the test at their local Walgreens and hand it over to new partners or use it to “prove” their “monogamous” relationship.

The relatively unknown Home Access blood test could be used the same way, but if Orasure puts some heavy marketing muscle into their oral swab test and it gains the kind of consumer awareness that the EPT has, this will be interesting. And possibly, scary.