OraSure had nearly 5,700 people take the at-home version of the test. The tests found that 114 thought they were HIV-positive; 106 of them actually were. That means that positive results were accurate 93 percent of the time. Negative results were accurate 99.98 percent of the time, the company said.
Pant Pai said the oral test's overall accuracy is similar to that of a blood test, although it's slightly less accurate. The oral test, in particular, may miss HIV infection in its early stages, she said.
Also, "the sensitivity of the test appears lower when administered in the home setting rather than a medical setting, so some of the people who are HIV-positive will get a test result that they are negative," said Jane Rotheram-Borus, director of the Center for HIV Identification Prevention & Treatment Services at the University of California, Los Angeles. "However, if they would otherwise not have gotten the test at all, they may also have believed they were negative."
Experts have expressed concern for people who learn at home, possibly alone, that they are probably infected with the virus that causes AIDS.
"The arguments against the at-home test focus on the absence of a counselor who could provide support and link the newly identified HIV-positive individual to medical care," said Rotheram-Borus, who supports over-the-counter sales of the OraQuick test.
She pointed out that "over-the-counter pregnancy tests are widely used, and pregnant women do find their way into prenatal care."
Orasure has said it will offer a 24-hour toll-free number that people can call to get support regarding their test results.
The comnpany has not determined the over-the-counter price of the test yet.
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