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Washington, D.C.: New Quick HIV Test Wins Local Support

August 5, 2003

There was significant interest among participants in the OraQuick HIV test that was offered during the June 27th HIV Testing Day at Washington's Whitman-Walker Clinic. Of 380 patients tested, all but four opted for the new rapid test, boosting hopes among health care workers that the test will encourage more patients who test HIV-positive to seek treatment.

More health clinics are using the 20-minute test to reduce the problem of people getting tested and never returning to find out the result, clinic officials said. Whitman-Walker will encourage patients to take the new test, but it also offers the traditional test that requires a waiting period.

"What makes OraQuick different is that is doesn't require a lab or any kind of equipment," said Michael Cover, Whitman-Walker's associate director for public affairs.

"The HIV rapid test is going to enable us to boost return rates to 100 percent," said Mike Ellis, director of counseling and testing. Ellis trains those interested in becoming volunteer counselors. To administer rapid testing results, candidates must be certified to provide both HIV-negative and -positive results. They also take a one-day course and then a practicum of reading the results and drawing blood.

Forty volunteers have already taken the classroom training and the practicum, said Ellis. "I remember when I got my result I was thankful that the person was trained to handle me," said Ellis, who tested HIV-positive in 1998.

Whitman-Walker's rate for those returning for their test results is about 75 percent -- 50 percent higher than the national average. For those who do not return, the positive test results are kept at the clinic for at least seven years. "What's unfortunate is that many of those people believe that even though they've tested anonymously, that we would have found some way to contact them," Ellis said.

Back to other news for August 5, 2003

Adapted from:
Washington Blade
08.01.03; Dwaun Sellers

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More on Rapid HIV Testing


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