Rapid tests for HIV, Hepatitis

DUBAI – The health ministry has introduced rapid tests to detect highly infectious diseases like HIV (human immunodeficiency virus which leads to AIDS) and HCV (Hepatitis).

Officials said the tests will deliver results within minutes especially during emergency surgeries, and in dental clinics.

Launching the OraQuick Advance HIV/HCV tests last week, Dr Amin Al Amiri, CEO of Medical Practice at the ministry said that the test results have an accuracy of 99.6 per cent. This is delivered within 20 minutes of testing as opposed to the regular blood test that could take up to five hours.

“The screenings will be performed in all government and private hospitals and health centres,” said Dr Al Amiri.

“This is a new technology and we are launching it in the country because both patients and doctors need fast results,” he said. “This test is particularly useful in operation theatres and dental clinics where doctors may have to take blood samples from patients to check for infectious diseases before performing surgeries.”

He also said the tests can be used for checking the HIV status for expatriates seeking residency or employment as per the country’s residency laws. In case the patient tests positive, the test is interpreted as preliminary positive and another method shall be used to confirm the initial test result, he said.

Patients can either give a saliva swab or opt for a pin-prick blood specimen.

“The ministry has introduced this test to provide extra support to healthcare providers especially those from the private sector since we believe that all kinds of precautions should be taken before surgeries are performed,” explained Dr Al Amiri.

The test, however, will not be used to screen blood donors while the testing fee will be determined by the hospitals and clinics.

The HIV rapid test has recently been approved by the US Food and Drug Authority.