The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first
over-the-counter HIV test, allowing Americans to test themselves for the
virus that causes AIDS in the privacy of their homes.
The OraQuick test detects the presence of HIV in saliva collected
using a mouth swab. The test is designed to return a result within 20 to
Government officials estimate one-fifth, or about 240,000 people, of
the 1.2 million HIV carriers in the U.S. are not aware they are
infected. Testing is one of the chief means of slowing new infections,
which have held steady at about 50,000 per year for two decades.
FDA officials said the test is aimed at people who might not otherwise get tested.