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New HIV Test Helps Researchers Determine Incidence, Whether Prevention Strategies Work

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a new HIV test, called the Limiting Antigen Avidity Enzyme Immunoassay, that can tell whether a person contracted the virus within the last 141 days, “hugely important information for researchers, who need to know whether fewer people are becoming newly infected with HIV to determine whether a prevention program is working,” the Wall Street Journal’s “Health Blog” reports. Speaking last month at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, D.C., “Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius called the new test ‘a major development that will help us better evaluate and improve our prevention efforts,'” the blog notes.

Instead of using traditional testing that involves two rounds of patient sampling separated by six months and costs millions of dollars, the new test can estimate HIV incidence in 10 days at a cost of thousands of dollars, according to Yen Duong, a microbiologist with the CDC’s global health HIV lab, the blog notes. “We saved a year that could have been spent on prevention. … Now we have a tool that actually directly measures our impact,” she said, the blog adds. “The test is commercially available from Sedia Biosciences and now is being used in countries such as Kenya, South Africa and others where [PEPFAR] operates, Duong says,” according to the blog (McKay, 8/7).