Rapid Oral HIV Test (cont.)
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Testing for the HIV Virus
The test on oral fluid can detect HIV-1 and HIV-2 antibodies approximately two to 12 weeks after infection (the majority are positive within four weeks of exposure), which is the same as other HIV tests.
HIV-1 is the retrovirus that typically causes AIDS and is the HIV type most prevalent in most of the world, including the United States. If a person has antibodies to HIV-1, it means that he or she is infected with the HIV-1 virus that causes AIDS.
HIV-2 is a virus found primarily in western, sub-Saharan Africa. HIV-2 is rare in other parts of the world, but it has been reported sporadically in many locations. It is believed to be spread by the same methods of transmission as HIV-1. If a person has antibodies to HIV-2, it means that he or she is infected with the HIV-2 virus.
Testing for both HIV-1 and HIV-2 is important, particularly in people who may have acquired their infection in western Africa or from someone who may have links to that area. Much of the HIV testing currently done in the United States, including the rapid oral test, detects both HIV-1 and HIV-2 (for example, the test used by the American Red Cross to screen blood donations).
The OraQuick Advance HIV-1/2 test has not yet been approved for home use or for the screening of blood donors.
Steven Fine, MD, PhD
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Over the past25 years sincethe first cases of what we now recognize as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection were identified in 1981, the number of children infected with HIV has increased dramatically in developing countries because ofthe number of HIV-infected women of childbearing age has risen.