Saliva test may make HIV testing easier in some populations
Two major factors that contribute to a lack of HIV diagnoses are the embarrassment people feel when going in for testing and a shortage of medical centers in high-risk regions. Researchers at McGill University may have recently identified a viable solution to these two issues.
A team of scientists analyzed a number of studies from around the world that compare saliva and blood testing for HIV. They discovered that in regions with large concentrations of HIV-positive individuals, a saliva test was about 99 percent accurate in screening for the virus. In areas where people were at a relatively low risk of contracting HIV, the accuracy was 97 percent.
Authors of the analysis said that saliva tests may be more viable options in locations where clinics are not commonly found. Additionally, it's much less stressful for some people to take a swab of their mouth and mail it in to be analyzed than it is to enter a testing center.
"Getting people to show up for HIV testing at public clinics has been difficult because of visibility, stigma, lack of privacy and discrimination. A confidential testing option such as self-testing could bring an end to the stigmatization associated with HIV testing," said researcher Pant Pai, M.D., M.P.H, Ph.D.
The team noted that sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing is an integral part of curbing the incidence of these infections, and that their findings suggest that saliva testing may work on a global scale. Individuals should seek screening each time they obtain a new sexual partner.
Additionally, proper and consistent condom use is known to significantly reduce the risk of contracting certain STDs.