Raleigh News & Observer Examines North Carolina's HIV Nucleic Acid Testing Program
March 22, 2006
The Raleigh News & Observer on Tuesday examined North Carolina's nucleic acid testing program -- which can detect HIV two to three weeks earlier than standard screening -- and its influence on HIV testing programs both nationally and internationally. Since North Carolina presented results of its NAT program at a conference in 2004, "nearly a dozen major public health centers nationally have established similar programs or plan to do so," and health care providers worldwide are examining it, the News & Observer reports (Fisher, Raleigh News & Observer, 3/21). Nucleic acid testing, which was developed in 1999, is used to test units of donated blood for HIV. NAT can detect minute amounts of viral genetic material in pooled plasma samples by amplifying gene fragments of the virus. If a pool tests positive for HIV, the individual sample can be detected and removed for further processing, and the donor can be deferred and notified. Because NAT looks for the virus and not antibodies, health professionals are able to identify HIV-positive patients in the days immediately following infection -- when they are most contagious (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/6/05). North Carolina's program includes both standard screening and NAT, and those who test positive usually are notified within 72 hours and counseled to begin antiretroviral drug treatment, according to Evelyn Foust, head of the state's HIV-prevention branch. The state then interviews HIV-positive people and attempts to contact people to whom they might have transmitted the virus (Raleigh News & Observer, 3/21).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2006 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.
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