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Rapid Oral HIV Test (cont.)

What Is the Accuracy of the Rapid HIV Test?

In 20 minutes, the device indicates whether HIV-1 or HIV-2 antibodies are present. If one line appears on the strip, it means that the person is not infected with HIV (with 99.8% accuracy). If two lines appear, the person is likely infected (99.3% accuracy). If the result is positive, it has to be confirmed by sending blood to a laboratory. The confirmation test may take one to five days, depending on the lab. As with all antibody tests for HIV, it could take from two to four weeks for a newly infected person to develop antibodies to the HIV virus and thus test positive for HIV. Therefore, if there is a negative result and a possibility of a recent exposure to HIV, the test must be repeated.

These rapid tests have revolutionized HIV screening by making testing available in many clinics, emergency departments, and temporary testing sites such as at health fairs and special HIV testing events.

Hospitals use these rapid HIV screening tests to tell if health workers have been exposed to HIV-infected blood and to test women in labor who had not been previously checked. This way, exposed workers and newborns can get anti-HIV drugs immediately to possibly prevent infection. In 2003, the CDC emphasized the use of these rapid HIV screening tests at shelters, drug treatment centers, and other nonmedical facilities.

How Is the Rapid HIV Test Performed?

To perform a rapid test, the tester collects either oral secretions or a drop of blood from a finger-stick sample. For oral secretions, the device involves swabs once around both the upper and lower gums. The tester then inserts the device into a vial containing the developing solution.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/21/2016
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