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Avera McKennan Improves HIV Prevention with Earlier Detection and Treatment


First U.S. hospital to use HIV test to detect antigens identifies three patients who would have gone home untreated using conventional test

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center was the first hospital in the nation to begin using America’s first HIV test to detect antigens, discovering the virus approximately three weeks earlier than any other test in the U.S.

“Early detection leads to earlier treatment and fewer complications, which reduces overall costs,” said Cheryl Wildermuth, MS, MT (ASCP), laboratory quality manager at the Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Avera McKennan, Avera Health’s largest hospital. “Complications that can be reduced or eliminated present not only less potential for infecting others, but also decreased infections and health issues for HIV patients themselves who are negatively impacted by their damaged immune response system.”

Abbott’s Architect HIV Ag/Ab Combo assay is the first diagnostic test in the U.S. to simultaneously detect HIV antigens and antibodies, allowing for earlier diagnosis. Shortly after the FDA approved it in 2010, the assay was showcased at the Premier healthcare alliance’s Innovation Celebration, which recognizes advances in healthcare from industry suppliers committed to improving patient outcomes.

In the first seven months of testing, Premier alliance member Avera McKennan performed 3,533 HIV combo assays and identified four new infections. Of the four HIV cases, three would have been missed completely using conventional testing.

This means that three people would have gone home untreated, creating a high risk for spread of the disease and possible death without treatment. Previously, Avera McKennan would only find one or two new positive results over the course of a year. That number was doubled in seven months, which is substantial for a low prevalence area like Sioux Falls.

“The overall cost of medical treatment including hospital care is significantly less for these patients as they can begin their therapy sooner. Studies show that therapy, such as taking oral antiretroviral medicines, can reduce HIV transmission by 96 percent,” said Wildermuth.

Globally, half of new HIV infections are attributed to the spread of the virus from people who test negative due to the “window” period of time it takes for enough antibodies to build and reveal a positive result on a traditional test, which could take days or even weeks. Testing for antigens, proteins which appear immediately after infection, detects the virus much earlier at a time when the newly infected are highly contagious.

Approximately 240,000 people in the U.S. today are unaware that they are infected with HIV due to false negative test results or neglecting to get tested. On top of that:

  • 50,000 people are newly infected each year;
  • The rising costs for HIV-related care totals more than $600,000 in a person’s lifetime; and
  • Annual federal government spending is more than $11.5 billion.

However, no longer are people with HIV always expected to die from the disease. And earlier detection can prolong the duration and quality of life for those with the virus via drug therapies that also significantly reduce opportunities for transmission.

Wildermuth said, “Early detection with this test provides a tremendous amount of value to the community as a whole. The sooner you can diagnose and care for these people, the better the outcome for all.”

About Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center

Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center, a 545-bed tertiary hospital in Sioux Falls, SD, is part of an integrated delivery network that includes 115 locations in more than 50 communities in four states. It is a member of Avera Health, a network of nearly 14,000 employees and physicians, serving more than 300 locations and 100 communities in a five-state region. In the last year, inpatient, outpatient and clinic visits totaled 2.5 million. Avera Health carries on the healthcare legacy of the Benedictine and Presentation Sisters,

About Premier’s Innovation Celebration

Annually, in conjunction with it the Premier Breakthrough Conference and Exhibition held in June, new products that can help providers administer safer, more efficient healthcare are showcased in Premier’s Innovation Celebration. All innovations are selected by a committee of clinicians and Premier members based on their ability to positively impact the healthcare industry. Criteria for selection include solutions that display uniqueness, as well as impact an unmet medical need.

About the Premier healthcare alliance, Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient

Premier is a performance improvement alliance of more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals and 86,000-plus other sites using the power of collaboration and technology to lead the transformation to coordinated, high-quality, cost-effective care. Owned by hospitals, health systems and other providers, Premier operates a leading healthcare purchasing network with more than $4 billion in annual savings. Premier also maintains the nation's largest clinical, financial and outcomes database with information on 1 in 4 patient discharges. A world leader in delivering measurable improvements in care, Premier works with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Premier also has an office in Washington. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


Premier healthcare alliance
Alven Weil, 704-816-5797


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Information in this article was accurate in July 26, 2012. 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.