Alere, HIV Testing 2.0

HCAT

HCAT members Nina Abon, Perry Rhodes III, Thomas Knoble, Brandi Ly, and Gary Carr in front of Castro mobile testing location.

On Monday, June 1, 2015, AHP became the first of two agencies in California—along with San Francisco’s API Wellness Center—to offer the game-changing Alere Determine Combination HIV Antigen/ Antibody Rapid Test, and the first agency to roll it out at a mobile testing site!

Alere Determine is the first FDA-approved rapid test that detects both HIV antibodies, immune system fighters that the body produces after becoming HIV-infected, and HIV antigens, actual HIV proteins that stimulate the body to develop antibodies. Although antigen testing has been available for more than 25 years, up to now, it has been a laboratory-based test. This is first time test counselors can deploy it in the field and get results in only 20 minutes.

And that’s really important, because HIV antigen can be detected much earlier than HIV antibody: two to four weeks after infection for HIV antigen versus two weeks to six months for HIV antibodies.

Alere’s shortened “window period” allows us to find people who are recently infected, during the “acute” infection state when they are likely to have a higher concentration of virus in their bodies. This means two things: people can access HIV treatment sooner in the course of infection, which can dramatically improve their health; and since these people can learn they are infected sooner, they are more likely to adopt HIV prevention measures when their infection is most transmittable. The test is also important because antigen and antibody follow different timelines; even if one is not detectable, the other one might be, which increases the chances that a single non-laboratory rapid test will detect HIV infection.

For more information about AHP’s HIV Testing and Counseling program, please visit: http://www.ucsf-ahp.org/hiv/hcat/ or call (415) 502-TEST or find us on Twitter at #502Test.