About AIDS

A long-awaited development is apparently just around the corner: a quick HIV test that would be available for broad use. One of the challenges for testing programs is getting people to come back to the clinic for their test results, which may be up to two weeks later, and perhaps a third never return. A Centers for Disease Control staff physician announced recently that FDA approval of fast-result tests should come in 1999. Some advantages to tests now under study include: results in two minutes, cheap cost (perhaps under $5), and finger-prick blood draw instead of a needle in the arm.

There is still a lingering problem of rare false positive results, i.e., a test being triggered by some other condition of the body, such as pregnancy, when the person is not really HIV-infected. Just as with present tests, a positive result will still need to be confirmed by the western blot to be conclusive.

A fast test has been approved for use in limited medical settings for some time, but this will be the first time a version is available on a wide basis. And no, it is not an at-home or at-the-bar product. We'll let you know when it arrives at a doctor or clinic near you.

-- Sandy Bartlett, Community Information/Education Coordinator

AIDS Services of Austin

ASA Info Line: 458-AIDS

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