Bloodless, 20-Minute HIV Tests OKd for Wider Use

Rhett Pardon
SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. — In a decision that may help the porn industry, the Bush administration said Friday that it will permit wider use of an oral test for the AIDS virus that gives results in 20 minutes.

The Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation, which tests actors in the business, currently uses the HIV Elisa and PCR/DNA tests which take one or two days, according to a spokesman at its Sherman Oaks, Calif., office.

The 20-minute test called OraQuick has been used mainly in hospitals and large health clinics, but now the relaxed rules will allow screenings in HIV counseling centers, community health centers and doctors' offices.

"HIV testing has never been easier or more accessible than it is today," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said, announcing the changes in advance of National HIV Testing Day on Sunday.

OraQuick, manufactured by OraSure Technologies Inc., does not require blood.

With OraQuick, a technician wipes a treated cotton swab along the gums, picking up not saliva but cells lining the mouth.

The swab is placed in a vial, and infection is determined by the presence of reddish-purple lines in a window on the vial.

OraQuick also makes a rapid blood test. Before it was approved in 2002, routine HIV tests took up to two weeks to provide results, and 8,000 people a year who tested positive at public clinics never returned to get the news.

The FDA says both of OraSure’s rapid tests are more than 99 percent accurate, but people who test positive will have an additional laboratory-run test to reconfirm HIV infection.