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Test early and often | Health

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Test early and often
Test early and often

High Rate of HIV Infection Among African-American Gay and Bisexual Men Fuels Drive for Earlier and More Frequent Testing

The rate of HIV infection among African-American gay and bisexual men aged 18 to 29 increased 50 percent between 2006 and 2009, according to new data released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS at the CDC, said this segment of the population was the only group to experience a significant increase in new infections during that period.  Speaking at a press briefing at the National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta on August 16, Dr. Fenton said the rise took place even as the overall number of new HIV infections in the US held steady at 50,000 cases per year.

Furthermore, the CDC estimated that nearly half of infected African Americans may be unaware of their HIV status.  CDC researcher Dr. Alexandra Oster called infrequent testing and low awareness “a major concern,” with data indicating only 55 percent of this high-risk group is receiving adequate care.  To increase rates of HIV testing and awareness among African American gay and bisexual men, the CDC is rolling out a new campaign called Testing Makes Us Stronger, which will feature messages posted in ads as well as on social media and in outreach programs. 

“It is increasingly clear that rapid testing for HIV should play a larger role in the overall strategy to alleviate the suffering of at-risk populations as well as the population-at-large,” says Lawrence Siebert, CEO of Medford, NY-based Chembio Diagnostics, a New York-based developer and manufacturer of point-of-care diagnostic tests.  “These rapid tests are capable of producing a result in as little as 15 minutes.”

Chembio’s two FDA PMA-approved, CLIA-waived, rapid HIV tests are marketed in the U.S. by Alere, Inc.  The company markets its HIV 1/2 STAT-PAK® and SURE CHECK HIV 1/2 line of rapid HIV tests internationally to government and donor-funded programs directly and through distributors.  Chembio has developed a patented point-of-care test platform technology, the Dual Path Platform (DPP®) technology, which has significant advantages over lateral-flow technologies.  This technology is providing the company with a significant pipeline of business opportunities for the development and manufacture of new products based on DPP®. Specifically, Chembio has developed a rapid oral fluid HIV test and also a Syphilis test which are now in clinical evaluation as part of the FDA approval process. 

Additionally, Chembio is working on making its unique SURE CHECK  HIV over-the-counter test available for consumer self-testing, and foresees submitting it to the FDA for approval for this use.   The privacy and convenience of self-testing could encourage more individuals to determine their HIV status, and to pursue treatment if it turns out that they are indeed infected.    

Please visit www.chembio.com to learn more.