Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Rapid HIV test now possible

Tuesday, November 8, 2005 Posted at 7:18 PM EST
Globe and Mail Update

A new Canadian-designed blood test can determine whether a patient is HIV-positive in one minute.

The INSTI kit, which has been approved by Health Canada, is a pinprick test that can be administered at doctors offices, clinics, or care facilities and has shown a 99.6 per cent accuracy rate. The 60-second test is the first point-of-care test of its kind in Canada.

The kit, developed by privately-held bioLytical Laboratories in Richmond, B.C., detects the presence of antibodies to HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the precursor to AIDS, in whole blood, serum, or plasma. Currently, an HIV test in Canada can take anywhere from five to 10 days.

Only a drop of blood is required for a kit result, which can be determined while the patient waits. The test will show a dot for negative, two dots for positive, and nothing if the test is invalid. An invalid reading can occur if not enough blood is taken.

The rapidity INSTI kit is a major advancement in HIV-testing. There are at least three similar kits on the market in the U.S., one of which requires only a mouth swab, but takes 20 minutes to administer.

A positive result on INSTI kit is considered a “presumptive positive,” and requires a subsequent lab test. Even so, it makes things easier for those who are intimidated by having blood taken and reduces the anxiety that builds up because of the waiting period that follows current tests, according to Matthew Clayton, chief operating officer at bioLytical.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, approximately 56,000 people have been confirmed as HIV-positive in the country since 1985. An additional 17,000 cases are estimated to exist but have never been diagnosed.

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