Local and Community News
Cincinnati: Technology Improves HIV Testing Access
March 13, 2003
New technology will make it easier for people to get tested for HIV, and, health experts hope, help contain the spread of the epidemic. AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati will start offering free HIV testing outside a doctor's office or public health clinic this spring with two test options -- the OraQuick and OraSure tests.Adapted from:
The tests are important options for people who cannot or will not go to a clinic or doctor's office to get tested for HIV, experts say. "We can go to their houses, and that's probably the easiest because you have privacy," said Victoria Brooks, executive director of AVOC.
Nationally, about 40 percent of people who get HIV tests never return to the doctor's office or clinic for results. Some of those people do not have transportation to get back and forth. Some might not have phones. And some just do not want to know the test results. But the sooner people know their HIV status, Brooks said, the sooner they can start being treated or change the behaviors that put them at risk for the virus. It also means their partners can be tested for the virus.
The OraQuick is a finger stick test that gives results in about 20 minutes. The OraSure test is a cheek swab and gives results within two weeks. Both are manufactured by OraSure Technologies of Bethlehem, Pa.
With the OraQuick test, caseworkers will have a "captive audience" during the 20 minutes they wait for the results, Brooks said. Once the results are available, Brooks said, "We can do two things. We can get them directed into medical care if their result is a preliminary positive. If they're negative, we can continue the conversation about 'What is it that put you at risk, and what can we do to change that?'"
A positive result with either method needs to be confirmed with a Western Blot test, says Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum, director of the Infectious Disease Center at the University of Cincinnati.
03.06.03; Peggy O'Farrell