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CDC testing new over-the-counter HIV screening kit

PHOENIX – Over 14,000 Arizonans have been diagnosed with HIV.

An estimated 5,000 more have the virus but have not yet been diagnosed. However, people could be more aware of their HIV status soon thanks to a new kit sold over-the-counter, called Oraquick.

“The patient takes a mouth swab of their saliva, and then dips the swab in a receptacle that has a liquid that can identify the antibodies produced because of the AIDS virus,” said Dr. Lawrence Waldman with the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS.

The kit is being tested by the CDC, and mostly in the eastern United States. However, the Southwest Center was part of an earlier pilot program a year ago involving the kit.

Waldman said when used properly, the kit is almost completely accurate.

Center Director of Research Andrea Norman hopes the fact that people will be able to test themselves for HIV at home will get more patients to seek early treatment.

“Hopefully more people will test inside the privacy of their own home,” she said. “They’ll have the ability to control their knowledge on whether or not they know they are HIV positive, and that’s powerful.”