About AIDS

Tampon may be used for HIV testing

Here's another example of the market responding to peoples' needs in ways that might not have occurred to most of us, just as with the varied condom products which we now see available: Researchers are working to utilize tampons in testing for sexually transmitted diseases, possibly including HIV.

Tampons, after all, absorb fluids in the vagina, and these may be used as the "specimen" needed for testing. Scientists reporting this summer at the American Society for Microbiology have already demonstrated that as a "collection device," a diagnostic tampon out-performs the traditional swab method in identifying Trichomonas vaginalis, especially on women who do not yet have symptoms. In addition to helping make earlier diagnosis, the tampon test could help women avoid the embarrassment of going to a clinic, since they can do the sample at home.

HIV testing centers increasingly use a sample of oral transudate (not saliva) taken from the mouth, rather than doing a blood draw. The same ELISA technology used with a blood or transudate specimen could also be used for testing a vaginal sample, or some other technology might be used, perhaps a quickie type right there at home. We'll keep you posted on product progress.

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