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US approves breakthrough HIV test that can help people start treatment straight away

US approves breakthrough HIV test that can help people start treatment straight away

  • It’s the first test to not only diagnose HIV but also measure viral load, allowing doctors to start treatment even faster.
Vials of blood.

The US has cleared a new HIV test that can not only find out if someone is positive but also measure their viral load.

The viral load – the amount of the virus in the body – is hugely important for doctors to determine the best treatment for new patients.

HIV can’t be cured. But effective treatment can reduce the viral load so far that you can’t pass the virus on to anyone else. As a result, frequent testing and rapid treatment have played a huge role in reducing HIV transmissions in recent years.

Now medical research company Hologic’s Aptima HIV-1 Quant Dx test has provided a fresh breakthrough. By diagnosing HIV and giving a viral load measurement at the same time, it can help patients get on treatment even faster.

Until now, patients who discover they are HIV positive would need several visits to a clinic and consecutive tests to work out their viral load. That can delay starting treatment by weeks.

The US Food and Drug Administration had already approved the Aptima HIV-1 for viral load monitoring. Now it has also approved its ‘claim’ for HIV diagnosis.

‘Patients can begin therapy immediately’

Kevin Thornal, president of diagnostic solutions at Hologic, said: ‘This is an exciting new claim for our highly sensitive and reliable HIV test because it has the potential to improve patient care.

‘A simultaneous viral load measurement with diagnosis will allow health care providers to guide treatment choices for patients to begin therapy immediately.’

The test runs on an automated system called Panther. So far more than 2,250 clinical diagnostic laboratories around the world have installed Panther systems, Hologic says.

Thornal added: ‘The dual claim will also benefit our clinical laboratory customers, who continuously seek to consolidate their testing as much as possible onto one automated platform.’