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CDC Reports 1.2 Percent of Rapid HIV Tests Positive

CDC rapid testing effort targeted the estimated 250,000 undiagnosed HIV-infected Americans in 2003

THURSDAY, June 29 (HealthDay News) -- About 1.2 percent of the nearly 373,000 rapid HIV tests conducted in the United States between September 2003 and December 2005 were confirmed HIV-positive, according to a report in the June 23 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the CDC launched its new rapid HIV-test distribution program (RTDP) amid estimates that one-quarter of the one million HIV-infected Americans were still undiagnosed in late 2003. The CDC distributed 790,310 OraQuick Advance Rapid HIV-1/2 Antibody Tests to representatives of 230 state and local health departments, medical centers, community groups and eight prisons in 37 states.

Overall, 1.2 percent of the tests were confirmed HIV positive, among 372,960 rapid tests administered. "The short shelf-life of OraQuick Advance (currently six months) and lack of programmatic experience in rapid testing resulted in some devices expiring before their use," the authors state.

"The findings in this report suggest that HIV testing might be increased by using rapid tests and that RTDP might have enabled diagnosis of HIV infection in persons who would not have known their HIV status otherwise," the authors write. "Previous research has indicated that the majority of persons who learn they are infected with HIV take steps to prevent transmission to others."

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