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Newest HIV tests provide quick results

Students at the University who are tested for HIV have to wait one week for their results, but there is another test that could give students their results the same visit they are tested.

Rapid HIV tests are simple to use and require little or no specialized equipment, reported the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention. These tests make it possible to provide test results at the time the test is done.

There are three rapid tests that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are available for use – the University uses none of these fast result tests.

Matt Deters, sophomore, said making people wait for results when there are quick result methods available is a bad thing.

‘#34;I had a friend who had to wait for his results and it drove him crazy,’#34; he said. ‘#34;Offering accurate results quicker is always better than making people anxiously wait.’#34;

But making people wait for results might be for the best said Barb Hoffman, health promotion coordinator at the University.

‘#34;Some researchers feel that the week gives those tested time to reflect on their sexual behavior,’#34; she said.

While some might spend this week reflecting on their lifestyle, others might simply forget to get their test results. The Center for Disease Control estimates that at least 30 percent of people who are tested don’t pick up their results.

As a result, even fewer people know whether or not they are HIV positive – two out of every three U.S. citizens have never been tested or acquired their results.

Since the test is anonymous at the University, no names or phone numbers are given. So when students fail to get their results, there is nothing the Student Health Center can do to remind students to pick them up.

But Hoffman said the University doesn’t have the problems of students not receiving their results. She credits the impressive result recovery rate to the good counseling the Student Health Center offers and students putting a high importance on getting their results.

Andy Crockett, senior, said the delay in getting the results would not discourage people from getting their results.

‘#34;Yeah, it would be stressful to wait a week for results,’#34; he said. ‘#34;But if you got tested you would want to know the results.’#34;

Hoffman said the Student Health Center administrators understand that there are a number of students who do fail to get their results and she plans to suggest issuing a survey to find out why these students don’t come back for their results.

While OraQuick – which takes 20 minutes to get results – is a good idea in theory, it is hard for a university to switch over to a new form of testing, Hoffman said.

In order for the University to perform rapid HIV tests, they have to comply with the regulations of the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 and with state requirements.

When a student tests positive for HIV at the University, the Student Health Center is required to call in a specially trained counselor to talk with the student. Because of this, OraQuick’s results wouldn’t be able to be released to students unless a professional counselor was available.

Hoffman said the University brings in these special counselors because there are no professionally trained counselors on staff due to the extensive training involved. But she said but there has been a discussion as to whether the University should train their staff to counsel patients.

Since most students do come back for their results, Hoffman is unsure if these 20 minute results would make any difference in helping more students to get their results.

“First, we have to find out if these quick results is what students want,” Hoffman said.

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