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Rapid Oral HIV Test (cont.)

Advantages of a Rapid Oral HIV Test

The rapid oral test is a significant advance because it may allow for testing of more individuals. According to the CDC, 1.2 million Americans have HIV, but one-fifth don't know it. About 50,000 Americans per year become infected with HIV. Among those who get tested using traditional methods, 31% of those who test positive do not return for their results (which are typically available one or more weeks after the test is done).

People give a variety of reasons for not returning for their test results. The frequency of each response depends on the population being tested. The most commonly given reasons include the following:

  • Fear of a positive result
  • Lack of transportation
  • Relocating to a new city
  • Belief that they are at low risk for HIV and therefore the result will be negative
  • Fear that their HIV status will be disclosed to someone else

Other significant benefits of the rapid HIV test for oral fluid include the following:

  • Providing quick results eliminates the need for people to return to get their results, although positive results must be confirmed by an additional test.
  • An oral test is less dangerous to the tester. With an oral test there is no risk to a health care worker of accidentally being pricked by a needle or being exposed to blood. HIV cannot be transmitted by oral fluid.
  • People who do not like needlesticks or are otherwise afraid of a blood test may decide to be tested.
  • If people know immediately that they are positive for the HIV virus, they can begin to receive treatment sooner and to take steps to prevent transmission of the virus.
  • Unlike blood, oral fluid can be stored at room temperature.
  • The tests do not require specialized equipment.
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