Some AIDS experts worry that a new HIV antibody test that can provide results in 20 minutes--a test that is expected to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration by the end of the month--may actually hamper behavior-change counseling, the Denver Post reports. Critics of the fast test say that many people benefit from a days-long wait for test results because it gives them a chance to talk to HIV counselors and to reconsider their behaviors that put them at risk for infection. A 1999-2001 study at the Denver Health Medical Center also found that people who underwent rapid HIV testing were 12% more likely to later contract a sexually transmitted disease than those who took standard HIV antibody tests.
Proponents of the tests say that rapid HIV antibody testing will allow health workers to reach more at-risk people, including sex workers and gay men visiting sex clubs and bathhouses. Quicker results also may help reduce the proportion of patients, currently about 30%, who never return for their test results.