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Instant’ saliva tests detect HIV in just 20 minutes

PUBLISHED: 17:28 21 May 2009 | UPDATED: 14:22 05 October 2010

PATIENTS are being offered instant’ saliva tests that can detect HIV in just 20 minutes in a pioneering trial in East London. The Royal London has become the first hospital in the country to offer the swab tests

By Gemma Collins

PATIENTS are being offered instant’ saliva tests that can detect HIV in just 20 minutes, following a pioneering trial in East London.

The Royal London has become the first hospital in the country to offer the swab tests at its Ambrose King clinic in Whitechapel.

The tests involve a special toothbrush to pick up antibody from the gum line.

Some 200 patients at the clinic are the first in Britain to use the test brought in by the hospital NHS trust which also includes the Sexual Health clinic at St Bartholomew’s in the City.

NO WAITING

Health chiefs are predicting around 250 patients turning up each month who will no longer have the agonising two-week wait for results from blood tests.

“This test doesn’t require taking blood or sending samples to a lab,” explained the trust’s Merle Symonds.

The trial was part of a study of 1,500 patients where swab testing was found to produce the same results as traditional blood samples, but was much quicker.

Britain has the highest number of new HIV infections in western Europe, with 7,700 reported in 2007.

But that may just be the tip of the iceberg. Health experts predict around one-in-three people affected don’t know they have HIV. One-in-four deaths from HIV in one year were directly attributed to late diagnosis.


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