Honolulu Advertiser (07.09.07) - Friday, July 13, 2007
On July 5, a new rule allowing rapid-result HIV testing by
nonprofit organizations went into effect in Hawaii. The change
was approved by Gov. Linda Lingle on June 27.
The Honolulu-based nonprofit Life Foundation supported the
rule change as a way to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Melanie Moore, communications director for the foundation,
said approximately one in four people with HIV do not know
they are infected. In Hawaii, around 3,000 people are living
with the virus, she estimated.
Older HIV testing methods can take up to two weeks for
results, said Moore. Due to this delay, many people who
undergo testing do not return to learn their status. "They're
scared; they don't want to know; sometimes we don't know why
they don't come back," she said.
Life Foundation has been working closely with the state Health
Department to start offering rapid HIV testing and has trained
its staff in the new procedure, which uses an oral swab. The
foundation expects to begin using the 20-minute test in
According to Moore, rapid-result testing has proved an
incentive in states that have promoted it. "More people are
willing to get tested," she said.
Life Foundation will continue to offer the older testing
method at its office at 677 Ala Moana, Suite 226. Outreach
workers will visit people who cannot or prefer not to come to
the office for the free and confidential test. "We do almost
700 HIV tests a year," said Moore. "We try to make testing as
easy and accessible as possible."