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HIV Test Results In 20 Minutes

The FDA has just approved a new test kit that can detect HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS, in as little as 20 minutes.

On The Early Show, medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay explains the new test, called Oraquick, promises doctors and patients a quick and reliable way to recognize HIV.

The diagnostic test kit provides results with 99 percent accuracy in as little as 20 minutes and uses less than a drop of blood.

The test promises to increase the number of people whose disease is detected - and treated - early. It also leads to early steps to prevent the spread of the virus.

Most other tests are complicated and take about a week to get a result.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that one-fourth of the approximately 900,000 HIV-infected people in the U.S. are not aware that they are infected. It's estimated that annually 8,000 people infected with HIV who go to the public clinic for testing do not return a week later to receive their test results.

For the test, a simple jab to the finger is used to get a drop of blood that displays colors if the results are positive. The test can be stored at room temperature and requires no specialized equipment. Dr. Senay says the only other quick test available is too difficult to use accurately.

The test will benefit people who want test results right away. Doctors can identify pregrant HIV infected women so that precautionary steps can be taken to block their newborns from being infected with HIV. It will also help to identify HIV infection in healthcare and emergency workers who are accidentally exposed to HIV infected blood on the job.

The test will soon be available in clinical settings for medical professionals. But the government is pushing for the maker to seek further approval so that its use can be expanded to other qualified persons, such as social workers in HIV counseling centers.