Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Whoa, there, Nellybelle!

Sabin Russell writes in a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle about a rash of false positive tests that have occurred in San Francisco and New York within recent months. These occurred with the use of the OraQuick Advance HIV test, which uses an oral swab to take a test sample and returns results within 20 minutes. The response to the problem of false positives was to immediately use the version of the test that relies on blood drawn by a finger-stick and also returns results in 20 minutes.

If the second test's result is negative, the patient would still need to undergo the more sophisticated Western Blot lab tests. Results for this can take a week, but in the meantime, the patient could be sent home with the assurance that the initial oral test's positive result was likely wrong.

The CDC is expected to issue an advisory and perhaps new guidelines for use of the test soon. This test is also being considered for over-the-counter sale by the FDA.

I'm wondering if the over-the-counter version will include two testing units, one for a swab and one for a finger-stick. Just in case. At any rate, this brings the concerns we expressed earlier about the over-the-counter proposal into somewhat clearer focus.

[Yes, this article was published on December 10. I discovered that, if I tried to backdate my posts, Feedburner wouldn't send them out as part of the blog feed. Instead they would simply fall back into the obscure past set by the date of the post. I'm still catching up on news that happened while I was on the road that is still important enough to highlight in the blog. Sorry 'bout that.]

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