Rapid tests boost HIV diagnosis rate in US

Keith Alcorn
Published: 27 June 2006

Over four and half thousand Americans were diagnosed as HIV-positive between 2003 and 2005 as a result of a US Centers for Disease Control programme that distributed rapid HIV testing kits to medical facilities and community-based organisations, enabling diagnosis of a large number of people who might have learnt of their HIV status only through the development of serious illness.

CDC distributed 790,000 OraQuick antibody tests between September 2003 and December 2005 in order to promote the use of rapid testing by state health departments, community-based organisations and medical facilities. Any publicly funded organisation providing HIV testing was eligible to receive rapid test kits.

CDC began promoting rapid testing in 2003 as part of its Advancing HIV Prevention strategy, designed in part to reduce the prevalence of undiagnosed HIV infection in the United States. One quarter of people diagnosed with AIDS in the US in 2003 had not had their HIV infection diagnosed prior to falling ill.

Rapid testing can provide a test result within 30 minutes and does not need to be carried out in a medical setting (although confirmatory laboratory testing is required for individuals who test positive).

Fifty-six per cent of the organisations that received rapid tests submitted detailed quarterly reports on HIV diagnoses and tests. 4,650 individuals were diagnosed HIV-positive after confirmatory testing (a prevalence of 1.2% of all diagnostic tests carried out).

CDC says that it will continue the distribution of rapid tests, and reports that many organisations that took part in the pilot programme are now offering rapid HIV testing as a service.


MacKellar DA et al. Rapid HIV test distribution - United States 2003-2005. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report 55 (24), 2006.

Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.