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Being Alive

Saliva Test for HIV Antibodies Approved


Being Alive 1995 Feb 5: 1

The FDA recently approved the use of OraSure, a saliva test for HIV antibodies. This test can now be used by clinics as an alternative to the blood test for HIV antibodies. People reluctant to have blood drawn can be tested by the taking of an oral swab of saliva. Saliva testing is slightly less sensitive than blood testing; the false negative rate is believed to be about 2%.

We should emphasize that the virus itself does not live in saliva. The test, like the blood test that has been available since early 1985, tests for antibodies to the virus, not for the presence of HIV itself. Also, OraSure is not for "home" testing. The home testing kit that has been discussed in the media has yet to be approved by the FDA.


Information in this article was accurate in February 5, 1995. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.