OraSure Technologies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday that the federal agency will spend $2 million to purchase 250,000 OraQuick rapid HIV testing kits developed by OraSure for distribution to state health departments across the county. The kits will be distributed throughout the country by the end of the year. The OraQuick tests can provide results in about 20 minutes, significantly reducing the waiting period of sometimes days that those being tested must wait for their results. Because of the lengthy delay between being tested and receiving the results, some health clinics report that up to 40% of those tested never return to learn if they're infected with HIV.
In February, President Bush called for more widespread use of the rapid testing kits at more than 100,000 doctors' officers and public health clinics around the country to help identify the estimated one third of the nation's 900,000 HIV-positive people who are unaware that they carry the virus. The CDC also announced in April a new HIV prevention focus that will shift up to $90 million in federal prevention funds to groups conducting HIV antibody testing.