FDA approves HIV test using saliva

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the first HIV test that uses saliva rather than blood and delivers results in 20 minutes.

Public health officials hope the new test will encourage wider and more frequent testing. About 25 percent of all Americans carrying HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, do not know that they are infected, according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Around the world, that figure may be as high as 95 percent.

Although the test is as easy to use as a home-pregnancy kit and could eventually revolutionize HIV testing, the company, OraSure Technologies of Bethlehem, Pa., is not yet seeking approval for over-the-counter sales, report mercurynews.com

About one-fourth of the 850,000 to 950,000 Americans living with HIV don't know it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. OraSure's rapid blood test was hailed when it won approval in November 2002 as a way to dramatically increase the number of people who know they are infected. Until then, routine HIV tests took up to two weeks to provide results, and 8,000 people a year who tested positive at public clinics never returned to get the results.

The rapid oral test may further expand efforts to get more high-risk people tested - because some people shun blood tests and because needle-free testing is safer for health workers, too.

"This oral test provides another important option for people who might be afraid of a blood test," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said in announcing the Food and Drug Administration's approval on Friday. "It will improve care for these people, and improve the public health as well," inform nj.com

Such testing is crucial not just so patients can seek HIV treatment, but because people who know they are infected usually take steps to prevent transmission to their sexual partners, added CDC's Dr. Dixie Snider.

Just like the rapid blood test, the rapid oral test is more than 99 percent accurate, the FDA said.

But people who test positive will need an additional laboratory-run test to confirm HIV infection.

Both tests are called OraQuick, according to miami.com

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