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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
UNITED STATES: Coming Soon: Over-the-Counter Oral AIDS Test
Gale Scott
February 3, 2012
Crain's New York Business (02.01.12) - Friday, February 03,

In January, Bethlehem, Pa.-based OraSure Technologies submitted a final module of clinical test results supporting its application to sell the OraQuick rapid HIV test to the public. Food and Drug Administration approval could come this year. The test uses oral fluid or blood; it currently is used widely in clinical settings.

To assess issues regarding at-home rapid HIV testing, Columbia University researchers conducted a study in which they offered the OraQuick test in an office setting to men who have sex with men, then interviewed them about their attitudes toward it. More than 80 percent said they would use the kit to test themselves or their sexual partners, according to Alex Carballo-Dieguez, Timothy Frasca, and colleagues at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

In general, however, there was little agreement about how to raise the subject with a partner or how to handle an unexpected positive result. Some men talked about making the test a condition of forgoing condom use; others said the test might be a signal that a relationship had advanced beyond casual status.

Opponents of at-home testing worry about how users would react if the test is positive. "There's a lot of potential opposition, and clinics might not be crazy about direct access in a private setting with no personnel with them if they get a positive result," Carballo-Dieguez said. The study's participants gave different reactions to this scenario: Some said they would offer sympathy; a minority said they would leave at once.

In a follow-up study to the paper they published this week in the Journal of Sex Research, the authors are distributing rapid test kits for use at home and asking testers to report on their experiences.