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15 minute test

Feb 20, 1997

Dear Mr. Sowadsky, Someone I know told me that he went for an HIV test that required only 15 minutes for the results to be known. Is there such a thing as a 15 minute test and if so, how accurate do you think the results would be? Thank you very much.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

There are two possibilities here. One was that this person took a SUDS test. A SUDS test is an antibody test that can be done right in the doctors office. The staff at the doctors office must be specially trained in how to do this test. Results can come back in as fast as 15-30 minutes. If the test is negative, you know in 15-30 minutes. There are some drawbacks to the test however. If it is positive, you still have to take the standard ELISA and Western Blot tests for confirmation. The SUDS test can occasionally show a false positive result. In other words, a positive SUDS test alone does not necessarily mean the person is HIV positive. That's why the standard ELISA and Western Blot tests must still be done if the SUDS test comes up positive. Since the standard ELISA/Western Blot tests can take about a week for results to come in, the person would have to wait a week for confirmation, knowing they might be positive. This waiting time can be a difficult emotional experience for most people. The other issue is cost. The SUDS test is more expensive than the standard ELISA/Western Blot tests. The other thing to consider is that the doctors office must be trained to do this test ahead of time, otherwise they cannot do this test for you. Because the SUDS test is an antibody test, it is still subject to the 6 month waiting period before taking the test.

The other possibility is that this person took an UNapproved HIV test. These tests are being marketed all throughout the Internet, both through Websites and E-mails. They're being marketed as home tests. However, these 15 minute home tests have NOT been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and their accuracy is questionable. For more information about these unapproved tests, see the question, "Website offers a rapid test. What do you think?"

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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a website offers a rapid test. What do you think?

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