Saliva HIV test passes the grade

A saliva test used to diagnose the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), is comparable in accuracy to the traditional blood test, according to a new study led by the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and McGill University. The meta-analysis, which compared studies worldwide, showed that the saliva HIV test, OraQuick HIV1/2, had the same accuracy as the blood test for high-risk populations. The test sensitivity was slightly reduced for low risk populations. The study, published in this week's issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases, has major implications for countries that wish to adopt self-testing strategies for HIV.

"Testing is the cornerstone of prevention, treatment and care strategies," says the study's lead author, Dr. Nitika Pant Pai, a medical scientist at the RI-MUHC and assistant professor of Medicine at McGill University. "Although previous studies have shown that the oral fluid-based OraQuick HIV1/2 test has great promise, ours is the first to evaluate its potential at a global level."

Dr. Pant Pai and her colleagues analyzed and synthesized real-life field research data from five worldwide databases. Their findings showed that the is 99 percent accurate for HIV in high risk populations, and about 97 percent in low risk populations.

The oral HIV has become one of the most popular tests because of its acceptability and ease of use. It is non-invasive, pain-free, and convenient and produces results in 20 minutes. "Getting people to show up for HIV testing at public clinics has been difficult because of visibility, stigma, lack of privacy and discrimination. A confidential testing option such as self-testing could bring an end to the stigmatization associated with HIV testing," says Dr. Pant Pai, whose work is supported by a Canada's Rising Star in Global Health Award. "There is a huge global momentum for alternate HIV self-testing strategies that can inform people know of their status."

High risk populations fuel the expansion of HIV epidemics but they face widespread discrimination, violence and social marginalization from healthcare services. UNAIDS estimates that globally, 90% of men who have sex with men lack access to the most basic sexual health services. "Oral can be a powerful tool for high risk populations, but self-testing must be accompanied by linkage to care to achieve good health outcomes," says the study's co-author Dr. Rosanna Peeling, Professor and Chair of Diagnostics Research at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

More information: www.thelancet.com/

Related Stories

Rapid oral HIV test shows great promise

Apr 11, 2007

A convenient, easy to use, and rapid alternative to blood-based HIV testing may become the new standard for field testing according to a new MUHC study. The study shows that the oral fluid-based OraQuick HIV1/2 test is 100 ...

Testing times: Detecting HIV in resource-limited settings

Nov 29, 2007

Integrating HIV testing programmes into primary medical care can help achieve early diagnosis of HIV infection, even in relatively poor areas, research published in the online open access journal AIDS Research and Therapy ...

Recommended for you

Clinical trial of herpes vaccine now enrolling patients

14 hours ago

Creating a successful vaccine against two members of the family, the sexually transmitted herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and 2 (HSV-2), has proven to be challenging. A clinical trial being conducted by a ...

How we got ahead in HIV control

Jul 25, 2014

When AIDS first emerged in the early 1980s, HIV infection was a death sentence. But a global effort has ensured this is no longer the case for a growing number of people.

User comments