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Study: Saliva Tests are Just as Reliable as Blood Tests for HIV Detection

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Saliva testing for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is just as reliable for detection as blood testing, according to a new study from McGill University Health Centre in Canada.

The analysis, which compared studies globally, showed that the saliva HIV test, Ora Quick H1V1/2, was just as reliable and held the same accuracy as the blood test for high-risk populations. The test sensitivity was slightly lowered for low risk populations.

“Testing is the cornerstone of prevention, treatment and care strategies,” said the lead author of the study, Dr. Nitika Pant Pai, professor of medicine at McGill University, in a statement. “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.”

Pant Pai and her research team examined and synthesized real-life research information from five global databases. Their results showed that the saliva test were 99 percent accurate for HIV in high risk populations, and around 97 percent in low risk populations.

Findings of this study are extremely beneficial for those who prefer home HIV testing, as it is more convenient, confidential, and pain-free with the absence of an injection needle. Results of the saliva test also provides results in about 20 minutes time.

“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,” said Dr. Pant Pai. “There is a huge global momentum for alternate HIV self-testing strategies that can inform people know of their status.

The findings of the study were published in the current issue of the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

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