The advent of a new test that can more reliably confirm positive AIDS infection was announced Wednesday. Its commercial developer said the test could save tens of thousands of people the agony of false or uncertain test results showing infection with the virus.
The new test, dubbed HIVAGEN, can be used to confirm positive results from the other available tests and to backstop tests in which results are ambiguous, said SmithKline Bio-Science Laboratories President Harry Groome, who announced the test in New York.
"It is estimated that this year, thousands of people will be told they have AIDS (virus infection) when they don't," he said. "HIVAGEN is the most accurate test available today to confirm AIDS infection."
"The results are fantastic," said Dr. John Mills, chief of the infectious disease division at San Francisco General Hospital, who monitored clinical trials of the test on 2,500 individuals. He said HIVAGEN produced no false positive test results.
The confirmation method currently used on all blood that shows infection is called the Western Blot test, which is performed manually by highly trained technicians who must interpret the results from shadings on strips of blotter paper. The HIVAGEN test is fully automated.