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Health Services takes part in pilot for new HIV test
April 4, 1997
Student Health Services is taking part in a pilot program offered on 10 campuses across the country to determine whether a simpler, painless HIV test will encourage more people to get tested.
The new test, called OraSure, replaces a needle poke with a pad placed in the mouth.
OraSure tests blood serum that comes through tissues in the mouth. The serum contains high concentrations of HIV antibodies and is free of most contaminants found in saliva.
The new test is beneficial to students, who are more likely to get tested if it is pain free, as well as health workers, who eliminate the chances of accidentally getting poked by contaminated needles, said Michael Kurland, director of health services.
"There is no drawing of blood, so there's no risk to the health care worker," he said.
The infirmary tests about seven to 10 students a week for HIV. Under the pilot program, they will have the option of either the traditional blood test or the OraSure pad, which is placed between a person's lower cheek and gum for two minutes.
UConn began the new test about three weeks ago. It is one of only two universities in New England -- the other is Brown -- selected to participate. The University is working with the test manufacturer, SmithKline Beecham, to guage the reaction of people tested. The test was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June.
The new tests will be administered until late April or May.
The program is not a scientific study, Kurland said.
"What we're doing is strictly assessing students' and providers' reaction to methodology," he said. Students who get tested receive a questionnaire asking if they like and trust the new test.
Besides UConn, other schools in the pilot project are the universities of Florida, Southern California, Brown, Jackson State, James Madison, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and San Francisco State.