Chinese Company Develops ‘High-Speed’ HIV Test
Piji Bioengineering Company, a firm based in Shenzhen, China, yesterday announced that it has developed the world's "fastest and cheapest" HIV test, the South China Morning Post reports. The test, which unlike most standard tests detects the presence of HIV and not HIV antibodies, was approved by the State Drug Administration in June and was introduced this week at Shenzhen People's Hospital (Jenkins, South China Morning Post, 8/1). It can produce positive results in as little as three hours, compared to four to eight weeks for a standard antibody test. The test, a polymerase chain reaction, also can detect HIV in the earliest stages of infection and can assess the severity of a person's infection within a week (Agence France-Presse, 8/1). Li Fangfang, AIDS testing director at the hospital, which took part in clinical trials of the test, noted that this feature will allow patients to "know early on exactly what they're facing" (Jenkins, South China Morning Post, 8/1). Piji is selling the test for $11.90, but Huang Qianhua, Piji's research manager, said hospitals are expected to charge patients more "as they have to make profits" (Agence France-Presse, 8/1).
In addition to domestic use, Huang said that the company sees "enormous potential" for the test in overseas markets. "We believe that our testing method will have huge implications both for China and for other developing nations such as those in Africa and Southeast Asia struggling to afford the costs of realizing how serious their AIDS epidemics actually are," she said (South China Morning Post, 8/1).