AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is partnering with Flex Spas, a national bathhouse chain to supply in-home HIV testing kits.
The kits will be available inside vending machines or through self-service kiosks inside the spas. In a press release, AHF described the partnership as “a new initiative to leverage technology and bolster HIV testing and awareness among high-risk populations.” The pilot program will launch with an electronic vending machine dedicated to HIV testing kits inside Flex Spa’s Melrose Avenue location in Los Angeles.
“The innovative social science experiment marks the first time that in-home HIV testing kits will be made available through vending machines in a commercial sex venue (CSV),” the AHF press release states.
The vending machines will feature OraSure Technologies’ OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, the FDA-approved oral fluid rapid OTC HIV test that can detect antibodies to both HIV-1 and HIV-2 with an oral swab in as little as 20 minutes. To access the complimentary testing kits, users will anonymously answer five demographic questions via an accompanying iPad kiosk and receive an access code to enter into the vending machine; users may receive up to two testing kits with each code. Each kit will include information on HIV testing and care providers, along with AHF’s 24-hour care hotline (213) 304-8151.
“AHF is excited to extend the reach of modern technology by placing at-home HIV testing kits in electronic vending machines. This innovative partnership with FLEX Spas promotes convenient HIV testing twenty-four hours a day, including after hours when healthcare workers are not testing on site,” said Lori Mizuno, Director of Public Health for AHF. “With the ease of buying a pack of gum, high-risk populations can now access free, in-home HIV testing kits from a vending machine and learn their status within minutes.”