Rock Hill, South Carolina – Over the years, there’ve been many advancements and improvements made in HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) testing. Early tests developed in the 1980s, such as the Western blot test, can take months for an infected individual to test positive. The OraQuick oral swab rapid test developed later has a similar window. The combination test (also known as the fourth generation test) used today, is now considered the recommended standard of testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The detection window period for the earlier tests is 90 days, whereas the combination test has a window period of only two weeks.
Telluss Good, lead community health educator for HIV and STI (sexuality transmitted infections) testing and prevention at Affinity Health Center in Rock Hill, South Carolina, has been working in HIV testing and prevention since 2008 and says that advancements in testing, as well as strategies to address both positive and negative results, are bringing us closer to “getting to zero.”
“Getting to zero” is an initiative developed and coined by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), the leading advocate for accelerated, comprehensive and coordinated global action on the HIV/AIDS pandemic. “These advances and changes in testing have been developed by the CDC, and they’re always working on making improvements and coming up with new ideas to advance and improve testing,” Good says. “The ‘Getting to Zero’ initiative aims to reach a point where there are zero new HIV infections and is anticipated to be achieved sometime between the years 2020 and 2030.
“We have a prevention strategy for negative results, and we have a prevention strategy for positive results,” says Good. “Being that we’ve come this far in evolution in terms of testing, treatment, and prevention, I feel we’re moving ever so close to not only getting to zero new infections but also finding a cure for HIV altogether,” he says. If an individual has a confirmed positive result, an HIV antiviral medication regimen is begun immediately – with the goal of lowering the individual’s viral load to zero or undetectable. According to Good, when an individual has an undetectable viral load, “there is a zero% chance for that individual to pass the virus to another person through sexual contact.” In the case of a negative result, depending on the individual’s level of risk regarding his or her potential for HIV infection, a medication known as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is often prescribed. One of the most common forms of this type of medication is called Truvada and is taken once daily to prevent the infection of HIV when and if an individual is exposed to the virus. With these two strategies for both positive and negative results, Good says that the UNAIDS vision of “getting to zero” is growing closer and closer every day. (Q Notes Online – Mykah Buff at goqnotes.com/64281/evolution-of-hiv-testing)
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