`Half-hour HIV test to reduce infection risk`

Melbourne: A new HIV test which provides a preliminary result within 30 minutes, using only a finger prick of blood, has been approved for use in Australia.

The test, developed by medical diagnostics company and approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for marketing in Australia, will lead to quicker treatment and reduce the risk of sufferers passing on the virus, Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said.

The test requires only a finger prick of blood which is transferred to a test card, the `Sydney Morning Herald` reported.

The card, in turn, detects the presence of HIV antigen and antibodies in the blood sample.

The test will be processed while the patient waits, whereas laboratory tests typically take over a week and can take as long as three months.

It is a preliminary screen only and all positive results require confirmation by a laboratory test. Plibersek said she hoped the test developed by Alere would encourage people at risk of HIV infection to be tested more regularly.

"Rapid testing is being used internationally to ensure that people newly infected with HIV can quickly access treatment. That means better health for the patient and a lower risk of passing on the virus," said Plibersek.

The executive director of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, Rob Lake, welcomed the approval of the test, which he said would increase the level of testing and enable earlier diagnosis.

"Making HIV testing simpler and more accessible for gay men, the most affected community in Australia, will help make the testing experience easier and encourage them to test more often," he said.

There have been 31,000 HIV infections, more than 10,000 cases of AIDS and more than 6000 deaths from AIDS in Australia since 1985. An estimated 24,731 people were living with HIV in Australia at the end of 2011, the report said.


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