One only needs to look at the numbers related to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to realize the need for HIV testing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1.2 million Americans currently host HIV and 50,000 Americans are infected per year. See more of this article.

One only needs to look at the numbers related to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to realize the need for HIV testing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1.2 million Americans currently host HIV and 50,000 Americans are infected per year. Of these, a fifth didn’t even realize what they were carrying! It quickly became clear that HIV testing was essential to properly assess and react to this widespread problem. Informed citizens can proactively tackle HIV if it affects their lives, and – just as importantly – they can take preventive steps to protect the entire population.

Which brings us to the HIV testing company itself. Currently, the CDC recommends routine testing for everyone ages 13 to 64. Finally, they want to see HIV testing become a part-and-package of every health care screening or meeting. Until then, it’s up to you to voluntarily contribute to their growing knowledge base and your own peace of mind. For that, you need facts; specifically, you need facts about rapid HIV testing, an innovative alternative to traditional HIV testing methodologies. In what way, you ask? Let’s find out:

How does it work?

Most HIV testing procedures, including rapid HIV testing, rely on antibody detection to determine outcomes. Samples (blood, plasma, oral fluids, and sometimes urine) are collected and exposed to the prepared solution. If there are HIV-specific antibodies in the sample, the test will return positive. Traditional and rapid HIV tests are consistently performed with 99% accuracy, and a positive result of both requires additional verification, usually an alternative HIV test such as the Western Blot test.

Fast? Contrary to what?

Traditional HIV testing involves an enzyme immunoassay (EIA), a lengthy technique that requires a vein-derived blood sample and special laboratory equipment. This test requires two visits: one to provide pretest and blood draw counseling, and the second to provide results and provide further counseling or referral. The period between the two visits can last from a few days to several weeks depending on various delivery delays, laboratory protocols or retesting.

In contrast, rapid HIV testing is much more convenient. The entire procedure takes less than half an hour and requires only one visit, including counseling.

What are the other benefits?

Since a large proportion of clients in STD clinics receive negative test results, millions of them could eliminate the need for a second visit if they opted for rapid HIV testing. This saves both clients and practitioners time and money. It is also the unfortunate fact that many traditional HIV testing clients do not return for their test results at all. Rapid HIV testing neatly solves this problem with results in place on the same day. In addition, people who test HIV-positive through rapid testing can receive immediate counseling to avoid possible transmission while they await a confirmed result.

What does this mean for the clinic?

Rapid HIV testing is much cheaper, faster, and easier for STD clinics to administer, meaning they can treat regional patients more effectively and in greater numbers. As medical technology advances, this contributes to increasing public perceptions of HIV testing and advances awareness of HIV infection and the need to combat it. Rapid HIV testing also provides a wider range of secondary testing options to check for positive reactions and ensure maximum reliability and precision.

As a final note, it should be remembered that the human body takes time to develop HIV antibodies – about 25 days, on average. HIV-positive patients can thus end up with a false negative result if tested too early. Counseling can help determine the best course of action for patients with new intimate relationships or other complicating factors.