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More testing
sites drop oral rapid HIV tests

More testing
sites drop oral rapid HIV tests

A high rate of false-positive results leads testing centers to drop oral rapid HIV tests.

At least six sites around the country that offer HIV antibody testing have stopped using an oral rapid HIV test because of concerns about its accuracy, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center; the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; San Francisco's City Clinic; the University of California, San Francisco's AIDS Health Project; and two other centers in San Francisco have stopped using the oral OraQuick rapid HIV test because of a high rate of false-positive results.

Health officials in San Francisco say that of about 200 positive results from the oral HIV test, follow-up testing showed nearly one quarter were false positives. New York City health officials report logging 30 false-positive test results in November alone.

The OraQuick test can screen for HIV antibodies from oral fluids gathered with a swab, a small drop of blood from a finger stick, or blood drawn with syringes. To date there have been no reports of an abnormally high number of false-positive results on either blood test, both of which also can provide results in about 20 minutes.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are currently investigating the reports of the high number of false positives from the oral version of the rapid HIV test. "Some false-positive results are expected with any HIV test. Additional testing is always needed to confirm true positive results," FDA spokeswoman Kimberly Rawlings told the Times.

Other prominent HIV testing sites around the country, including the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles, Gay Men's Health Crisis in New York City, and the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, D.C., have not encountered problems with high numbers of false-positive results and are continuing to offer the oral tests. (

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