Australia: Half-Hour HIV Test to Reduce Infection Risk

A new HIV test that provides results in 30 minutes while the patient waits has been approved for marketing in Australia, according to Health Minister Tanya Plibersek. The new test, requiring only a finger prick of blood, is a preliminary screening only. Positive results will still require the confirmation of a laboratory test. However, Plibersek said that she hoped the convenience of the new test developed by Alere would encourage those at risk for HIV infection to be tested more regularly. This would ensure that those newly infected would have quick access to treatment and therefore have a lower risk of passing on the virus. Rob Lake, executive director of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations, welcomed approval of the test and echoed Plibersek's sentiments, saying the test would increase the level of testing and enable earlier diagnoses. An estimated 24,731 individuals were living with HIV in Australia at the end of 2011.