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FDA Could Approve At-Home, HIV Test

By Daniel Cherry | Published 17 May 2012 04:57pm | comments
Dr. Shemeka Hamlin-Palmer demostrates how to use an OroQuick rapid HIV test

There are nearly ten thousand known cases of HIV/AIDS in Mississippi. Increased testing measures could cause that number to rise. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how a proposed, take-home HIV test could impact the state's battle against the deadly virus.

At the My Brother's Keeper, Health and Wellness Center in Jackson, Dr. Shemeka Hamlin-Palmer demonstrates how an OraQuick rapid HIV test works.

"What I would actually do is swab the top of the person's mouth, then flip it over and swab the bottom of the person's mouth. You only do that once because if you constantly do it, it will cause a false-positive."

It's estimated that one in five people living with HIV don't know it. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is likely to approve the at-home, do-it yourself OraQuick HIV test in hopes of lowering that number. Dr. Nicholas Mosca is the STD/HIV Director for the state Department of Health. He says while more people may get tested because they feel comfortable at home, it's important to bear in mind, this is just a screening tool, and no results are official.

"The core issue there is that, it is not a diagnosis. It is a screen. You still have to have a 2nd test to confirm the presence of infection, and then the most important thing is, you have to get into treatment."

Studies show, the test, when performed by non-professionals is about 93% accurate. Federal health officials say the reward outweighs the risk. Luke Versher, with Aids Action in Mississippi has several concerns...one being, a person has to be infected 3 months before it will show on a test.

"I had sex last night. I took the test 3 days ago, but that didn't cover last night. Or that didn't cover two weeks ago or even a month ago. So do people even understand that? How detailed will the instructions be?"

A 17 member FDA panel unanimously approved the tests earlier this week, but it won't be available over-the-counter until the full FDA gives approval.

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Dr. Shemeka Hamlin-Palmer demostrates how to use an OroQuick rapid HIV test


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