The Truth About, New HIV Test

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just approved a new rapid HIV test. The good news is that it is relatively simple, quite accurate and very fast. It only requires a drop of blood and results can be available in as little as 20 minutes.

The bad news is that the test detects an HIV antibody and not the virus itself. This means that a person can already be infected with HIV and yet not test positive for as long as 3 months!

As of now, this new test has only been approved for use by experienced technicians in certified laboratories. In this way, tests results can be continually monitored for accuracy, including any false positives and false negatives.

Tommy Thompson, the Secretary of the Dept. of Health and Human Services, has urged the manufacturer to apply for a waiver that would allow this new test to be used in a wider variety of settings. What kind of settings does Mr. Thompson envision? Office personnel in doctors' offices? Counselors in public health clinics? The general public in the privacy of their own homes? If this new test is to be made available for wider use, some way to keep track of positive results will need to be devised.

Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Editors,

FDA Approves New Rapid HIV Test Kit HHS

Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new rapid HIV diagnostic test kit that provides results with 99.6 percent accuracy in as little as 20 minutes.

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