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Dentists targeted to do HIV test

Dental surgeries and pharmacies in Australia may soon be offering rapid HIV and STI testing to patients and customers

Researchers at the University of Sydney are currently surveying dentists and community pharmacists to gauge their support for introducing the tests in-house.

If the response is positive, the researchers hope additional HIV and STI testing outlets will help to increase the rates of early diagnosis.

In New South Wales, it is estimated that 20-30% of those living with HIV remain undiagnosed.

The Australian government approved the first rapid HIV test in December last year, a finger prick test currently performed by doctors. Oral versions are now awaiting approval.

The test screens for HIV antibodies, giving a result within 20 minutes.

A positive result still requires a blood test for confirmation but there is an almost immediate indication, as opposed to waiting more than 24 hours. Rapid oral HIV and Hepatitis C tests are currently being reviewed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Clinical investigator, Anthony Santella, said: ‘Community pharmacies and dental surgeries, with their recognised trust and expertise, close links to local populations and widespread geographical distribution, can potentially provide a high quality, safe and readily accessible location for HIV and STI testing.

'And it also represents an opportunity for pharmacists and dentists to expand their existing public health role.’

 

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