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Quick HIV test
has helped more people find out their serostatus

Quick HIV test
has helped more people find out their serostatus

A 2003 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initiative in which the agency distributed nearly 800,000 rapid HIV antibody tests to community groups and prisons helped bring in many more people for testing than usual, a new report says.

The findings, published Thursday in the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, validate a widely held assumption--that people are more apt to seek testing if there is a quick and easy method, such as OraSure's saliva test for HIV antibodies, the CDC said. If the test results are available within a half hour, people are more likely to wait for them than they are to return for results a week or two later, as is necessary for conventional blood tests. Studies show nearly one third of people who undergo conventional HIV testing never return for their results.

The CDC said that at the end of 2003 about one quarter of the estimated 1 million HIV-positive Americans had not had their infections diagnosed. That same year, the CDC began distributing rapid tests to 230 organizations in 21 states and Washington, D.C. Of the 372,960 tests administered, 1.2% (4,650) of them showed the patient to be HIV-positive.

"The results suggest that [the program] helped scale up rapid HIV-testing programs in the United States and enabled diagnosis of HIV in persons who might not have had their infections diagnosed otherwise," the report said.

"Although follow-up client data were not collected on the 4,650 confirmed HIV-positive test results, previous research has indicated that the majority of persons who learn they are infected with HIV take steps to prevent transmission to others and obtain health care that can prolong the quality and duration of their lives," the CDC said. (Reuters)

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