September 23, 2011
A new blood test now available at the University of Virginia Health System’s Ryan White HIV Clinic provides a faster diagnosis of HIV.
Standard HIV tests look for antibodies produced to combat the disease. However, it can take four to six weeks for a patient to begin producing those antibodies after contracting HIV.
With the new test, results are typically available within 30 minutes of testing. Doctors say a quick diagnosis is important because patients are at highest risk for spreading HIV immediately after contract the disease.
“The difference between this new test and the past test is that it can actually pick up a protein that's made by HIV very early in the infection,” said Dr. Kevin Hazen, a clinical microbiologist.
The test can be performed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Positive test results are confirmed through a second test using a different testing technique. The early detection will allow doctors to start therapy sooner with people that are infected.
The University of Virginia Health System is the first hospital in Central Virginia to begin using the new test.