HIV Testing in Dental SettingsSeveral studies have reported that more than 20% of people living with HIV in the U.S. are unaware of their viral infection.

The Centers for Disease Control Routine and Prevention (CDC) recommends HIV testing should be routinely done for all people ages 13-64, yet surveys show that up to 16% of those infected with HIV don’t know it. The Rapid HIV test can detect HIV antibodies in the blood and provide results in a few minutes, eliminating the stress of waiting a week for results. The test can be done either by collecting oral fluids or through a simple finger prick.

According to a groundbreaking study presented at the Sydney University HIV Testing Symposium, more than 80 percent of oral health patients are willing to receive rapid HIV-testing in dental settings. This willingness would help to reduce the spread of the HIV, says the study. According to the Australia Annual Surveillance report 2014 approximately 14 per cent of all HIV cases in Australia are undiagnosed. It is also estimated that 24,500-30,900 people in the country are living with HIV.

Of the 521 Sydney–based dental patients included in the study, 76 percent were willing to receive rapid HIV testing at the dentist’s office, 15% were ready to take a pin prick test, and 8%, a traditional blood test. The team also noted that about 45 per cent of dentists are willing to conduct rapid HIV testing.

With the increase in patient’s willingness, making rapid HIV testing widely available in dental settings could help to reduce the spread of the virus by informing people who aren’t aware that they are HIV-positive.

The lead author of the study noted that “it is vital for policymakers and other stakeholders to consider rapid HIV testing aside from sexual health and medical clinics. The average time from infection of HIV to diagnosis in Australia is more than three years”.

The Australian Government’s HIV Strategy aims to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV by 50 per cent by 2015, as a key step towards eliminating the diseases by 2020.

Results that a rapid HIV test can provide include non-reactive – where HIV antibodies are not found in the sample, reactive – where antibodies are found in the sample or invalid – where a repeat rapid test is recommended.

Rapid HIV testing is available in medical clinics. Siemens Healthcare DiagnosticsADVIA Centaur HIV Ag/Ab allows earlier detection of HIV infection than antibody tests. This assay is designed to simultaneously detect the presence of the HIV p24 antigen and antibodies to HIV Type 1, including Group O (HIV-1 + “O”) and/or Type 2 (HIV-2) in serum and plasma. This HIV Combo Assay detects both the antigen and the responding antibodies, simultaneously increasing the likelihood of early detection and treatment for HIV patients.