Rapid HIV Tests Highly Effective in Preventing Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission in India, Study Finds
Rapid HIV tests have been found to be highly effective in preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission in clinical trials in India, according to a study published online Tuesday in PLoS Medicine, the Times of India reports (Sinha, Times of India, 5/7). For the study, the researchers used OraSure Technologies' OraQuick Advance Rapid HIV 1/2 Antibody Test (Derfel, Montreal Gazette, 5/6).
The OraQuick test requires users to swab their gums and then place the swab in a holder. After 20 minutes, one line appears on the strip if the test result is negative and the person is HIV-negative, and two appear if the result is positive and the person is HIV-positive. Positive results require a follow-up test with a medical professional for confirmation (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/1). According to the Gazette, although standard blood tests are available in India, they are not always accessible. In addition, it can take up to two hours to receive results from standard blood tests, and laboratory technicians are not on call during the evening to administer the tests -- meaning that most women give birth without being tested for HIV (Montreal Gazette, 5/6).
For the study, Nitika Pant Pai of the division of infectious diseases at McGill University's Health Center and colleagues administered both an oral HIV test and a traditional blood test to 1,222 pregnant women during a nine-month period in the labor ward of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in India. The results from both tests corresponded in 100% of cases, the researchers found (ANI/DailyIndia.com, 5/6). Of the participants, about 82% had never taken an HIV test, according to the study. The tests found that 11 women were HIV-positive. These women were given antiretroviral drugs to prevent MTCT. According to the study, 10 of these infants survived and tested negative for HIV.
According to the World Health Organization, there were 420,000 new HIV cases among children reported last year in India, most of which occurred through MTCT (Montreal Gazette, 5/6). "Most Indian women do not receive prenatal care and therefore do not get tested for HIV during pregnancy," Pai said, adding, "Testing in the labor ward is the last chance to prevent" MTCT (ANI/DailyIndia.com, 5/6). In addition, "Indian patients often refuse blood collection in fear" of being ostracized, but "saliva collection poses no problem," according to Pai (Times of India, 5/7). Pai suggested that the OraQuick test should become a standard procedure in India, as well as in South Africa and China (Montreal Gazette, 5/6).
The study is available online.