It's amazing what a little spit can do. Swab the inside of your mouth and you'll know whether you are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, thanks to OraQuick. It's the first over-the-counter home test for HIV--expected to be available this fall--that doesn't require users to send samples to a lab. Consumers place the swab, attached to a test strip, in a vial of liquid, and two colored lines appear if the virus is present.
The idea for such a DIY test has been around since 1987, but the FDA hadn't approved one because of concerns raised by experts over how users would handle a positive result. Since then, better drug therapies and social acceptance of AIDS have reduced the stigma of the disease. That makes it likelier that people will use a home test, which makes it possible for more people to get treated. "There is a lot less controversy and fear," says Mark Harrington of the advocacy organization TAG. "This test has been a long time coming."