Rapid HIV Tests

HIV is a dangerous disease that is afflicting millions of people all over the world. Many people are not aware of the tests available that can help them in detection of this serious health problem. This article will throw light on the rapid HIV tests that can be used to detect this condition.
| Monday, December 22, 2008
HIV or human immunodeficiency virus is a health problem of mammoth proportions that has plagued the world, with increasing number of people falling prey to this disease. This virus attacks the CD4 or T4 cells in the body. Once the immune system of a person is weakened he is diagnosed with AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. Testing for HIV is of utmost importance. People are still confused about some aspects of this illness such as the kind of tests that are needed to be taken, how accurate are HIV tests and how long does HIV test take. HIV testing is now a part of routine medical examination and patients and physicians can choose from among the primary types of HIV tests available. These tests include:

ELISA test (or Western Blot test)
This is the standard test used for screening of HIV virus. This blood test is called enzyme immunoassay (EIA) or ELISA test. For this test a small sample of the blood of the person is taken. The person to be tested is required to make two visits. In the first visit pretest counseling is provided to the concerned person and blood is also drawn in this visit. In the second visit the results of the test are provided along with post test HIV counseling. In case of positive results medical referrals are provided to the person.

Rapid HIV test
In this test a person can get HIV counseling and the results for the test along with medical referrals in just one visit. Rapid HIV tests allow people to get the test results in 5 to 30 minutes.

OraQuick/OraQuick Advanced HIV-1/2 Antibody Test
This test is approved for detection of HIV-1 and HIV-2 and can be used with plasma, venous blood and also oral fluids. The HIV test equipment in this case is a test paddle where the test area contains HIV-1 and HIV-2 envelope proteins. The plasma, blood or the oral fluid can be applied to this paddle and placed in the developer solution. With oral fluid the paddle can be swabbed on the inside of the person’s mouth. If the test specimen contains HIV then it binds to the proteins and this results in the appearance of a red line on the paddle. The red line is the indication of the test being positive for HIV. The HIV test results for this can be obtained by reading the test 20 minutes after it is administered. The maximum time for reading this test should not exceed 40 minutes from the time the sample is placed within the developing solution.

Reveal G2 Antibody test
Plasma or serum specimens can be used for this test and it takes only 3 minutes for this test to be completed. This test is however more complex than the OraQuick test since it needs centrifuged serum or plasma. The HIV test kits in this case include a cartridge and a test area. Like OraQuick the specimen to be tested binds with the protein in the test area to reflect a red dot and this is an indication of the test being positive for HIV.

Uni-Gold Recombigen HIV-1 Test
Blood, serum from fingerstick or venipuncture and plasma can be used for this test. This test has a rectangular cartridge and a test area along with a specimen well and a control area. In this test the specimen is applied within the specimen well and this is then allowed to be absorbed, tracking it along the strip towards the test and control areas. Like the previous tests the specimen has to bind with the proteins in this test to reflect a red line. If this red line appears in both the test area and control area then the test is deemed positive for HIV.

Multispot HIV-1/HIV-2 Rapid Test
Frozen and fresh plasma, serum or whole blood can be used in this test. This test consists of a cartridge and has five reagents. These include specimen diluents, wash solution, development reagent, conjugate and stop solution. The cartridge in this test has a membrane and microparticles on this membrane are immobilized in four places. This includes one for HIV-2 test spot, two HIV-1 test spots and a control spot for verification of adequacy of the specimen. If the control spot and either of the two HIV-1 spots turn purple then the test is considered positive for HIV-1. Likewise if the control spot and the HIV-2 spot turns purple then it is considered positive for HIV-2. If the control spot, the HIV-2 spot and either or both of the HIV-1 spots turn purple then the test is considered HIV reactive or undifferentiated. The test is considered negative if only the control spot turns purple.

Some HIV tests that you can take at home:
HIV home tests are not home tests in the truest sense of the word but are home HIV collection kits. In this kit a person can prick his/her finger with a special device and place the drop of blood on a card that is specially treated. This card is then mailed for testing to a licensed laboratory. Individuals taking the test are given identification numbers which they can used to check their results through the telephone. Counseling is also provided while taking the test and while waiting for the results and getting the same. Anyone who gets a positive test result has to take a confirmatory test.

Rapid tests often cause one problem and this is the occurrence of tests that are false positive. The biggest advantage of rapid HIV tests is that these take less time and therefore can offer quick medical help to those who get positive results. A positive rapid HIV test should be confirmed with the western blot test.
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