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At-home HIV test approved

Testing for HIV at home has now become a reality. U.S. health regulators have approved the first over-the-counter home test for the virus that causes AIDS. OraQuick uses mouth swabs and provides results in around 20 minutes. Douglas Michels, head of the product's manufacturer, says it is not meant to replace clinical tests, but merely act as a supplement. SOUNDBITE: DOUGLAS MICHELS, ORASURE CEO, SAYING (English): "We believe that this is another tool in the fight against HIV and AIDS. This doesn't replace testing that goes on in clinics or doctor's offices or hospitals. We see this as another opportunity for people to learn their HIV status. So we believe that this is going to increase people's awareness about HIV and AIDS and we hope it will serve to reduce the stigma that surrounds HIV and AIDS and make testing more normal." The test is already being used by clinical technicians across the U.S. The home version includes a detailed instruction booklet and access to a 24-hour helpline. Health care professionals welcomed the news but were cautious. SOUNDBITE: VALLERIE WAGNER, AIDS PROJECT LOS ANGELES DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION, SAYING (English): "It's encouraging that people have another tool in their toolbox. But again that comes with a lot of questions that we have about how this is going to be rolled out. Will the people that are there at the other end of the 24-hour hotline actually have all the information that is necessary to be able to give appropriate information to people that are calling in to find out, or to help them in reading the results of their test?" Clinical trials showed the test was accurate 92 percent of the time in diagnosing HIV - meaning one out of every 12 test results would be a false negative. Experts warn this might lead some HIV-positive people to take fewer precautions. The test will also not detect HIV within the first three months of infection. OraQuick is scheduled to hit store shelves in October. Sarah Charlton, Reuters.

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