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Rapid Testing - What's up with my state?
Nov 18, 2004

Hey Doc -

Just sort of thinking out loud here. I'm wondering why more people don't have rapid testing available for HIV. I mean, they're very simple to use, and they're just as accurate as sending blood to a lab, right? Plus, it gets a patient in and out in half an hour, rather than scheduling two separate appointments or having to call the person back in a week. So you'd think clinics and everyone would be lining up to get them! I would think it's even a bit safer... small finger poke or oral swab as compared to a full blood draw!

I live in one of those, let's see, how did you put it... square states in the middle of the country. (Mine's not so square, geographically speaking, but plenty square in other ways.) To emphasize, we're even one of the few states that does not allow anonymous testing, which I think is total crap! I called CDC and looked on some websites, and no one has any knowledge of rapid testing anywhere near me... not at planned parenthood, no clinics, nothing. I ended up driving two hours a few weeks ago, because that to me was more palatable than waiting a week for results.

Now, for my three month test, I'm just going to my doctor and I guess I'll have to wait the few days. I had a very low risk exposure and one negative test at about a month, so I'm feeling pretty good that I'll be okay, but sitting there waiting for a week (and these few weeks beforehand) is still tough.

Is rapid testing not being utilized enough everywhere, or is it just around here? I'm guessing where you live, this sort of thing is a little more progressive and you probably have more options. I know we're a little backward around here, but why would doctors and clinics not want to take advantage of this technology??

Oh, and one kind of off topic thing... when I went to the rapid test clinic, it was sort of an outreach setting... I know it's affiliated with a good program, the gal opened a new packet, wore gloves, the works, but it was sort of a hole in the wall place... but I shouldn't worry anything about it being unsanitary, right? The only thing of concern to me was that the loop used to collect blood from the finger poke was placed on a paper towel while she poked my finger and then she placed it along my finger to get the blood... I worried about something being on the paper towel... I asked and she said the paper towel was new and clean, but I didn't see her put it there so my mind started wandering. I'm sure there's practically no risk of catching HIV this way, even if the guy right before me turned up positive, right? What about more contagious stuff like HBV? Sorry, I'm a bit of a hypochondriac... working on that. But silly enough, it's one reason for me to be hesitant to go back to the clinic... I just keep thinking that there are likely more people there who do have HIV or some other STD, therefore just a possibility of being exposed to something, rather than my family practice office where most of the blood-draw patients seem to be elderly women checking cholesterol or blood sugar. (I know, I recently got medicine for my anxiety.)

Anyway, just wondering if you know something about the whole rapid testing thing that I don't. Hope all is well and God bless.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

First off, no worries about contracting anything during your blood test, OK?

As for some red states being a bit "square," well, let me put it this way: the last time I had to fly to Alabama, the handsome gay flight attendant announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, we'd like to welcome you to Alabama. Please set your watches back six years."

Dr. Bob



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