July 10, 2007
This year for the first time, several central Florida clinics were offering rapid-result HIV tests on National HIV Testing Day, June 27.
With the conventional blood test whose results typically took about two weeks, "The retention rate was pretty low for the amount of people who came back to get their results," said Terrell Irvin, early-intervention consultant for the Volusia County Health Department.
Some people assume the department will contact them if the results are positive, but this is not the case, Irvin said: Florida law requires that HIV test results be reported face-to-face. Of the 6,500 people tested annually by the department, 45-50 percent of those testing negative never received their results. And though the department goes into the community to locate those who test positive, about 10 percent of those infected never get their results.
A similar situation exists in Polk County, said Keith Boyd, human-services program specialist for the county health department. Only about 60 percent of those who tested received their results, despite the county's efforts to locate and inform all testers. He said about 90 percent of those testing positive came back for their results.
Orange County does not offer the rapid-result test during regular clinic hours but did offer it for National HIV Testing Day.
Irwin said that while the rapid-result test is more expensive -- $12.50, compared to $1 for a conventional test -- earlier diagnosis of those infected reduces health care costs in the long run.