Bay Area clinics see high false HIV positives

June 18, 2008 6:14:56 PM PDT
There is new concern about a test to detect HIV. Clinics in New York City have stopped using a rapid test called OraQuick because of the high number of false positives. Some Bay Area Clinics are seeing the same problem.

AIDS Project-East Bay in Oakland began using the swab method in testing for HIV last September. Then in February and March two men and woman, tested positive but after a second test, they proved to be negative.

"She was so unnerved by the fact that she had tested preliminary positive and just did not trust the HIV testing process at all, so it took three or four tests to finally get her reassured that she was HIV negative," said David Williams, with AIDS Project - East Bay.

The two men never came back to get the results of their second test.

New York City sexually transmitted infection clinics have stopped using the swab test after their false positive rate went up as high as 1.1 percent.

The company, OraSure Technologies says the accuracy of the oral test is 99.8%.

In a statement the company says it is working, "To better understand the recent test performance at these 10 specific STD clinic sties in New York City."

An investigation is underway by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. In fact, they found other health departments in different parts of the nation, including San Francisco have had elevated rates of false positives.

"So in 2005 we had a number of false positive tests among our publicly funded HIV test sites in San Francisco and we did a though investigation and never determined the reason why," said Grant Colfax, the director of HIP Prevention, at the San Francisco Health Department.

San Francisco immediately does a rapid HIV blood test to confirm swab test results, so no one leaves believing they are positive if they are not.

"From the public health perspective, what we don't want to see are people not getting tested because they think it's a bad test because it is simply not true. It is an excellent test, it's better than most medical tests that we use," said Colfax.

These New York City clinics are now using OraQuick Advance HIV test that screens blood.


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