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New oral HIV test faster, safer

Oct. 4, 2005

by ANALIZ GONZALEZ, staff writer

While some universities offer oral HIV tests that have results ready in 20 minutes, Baylor continues the traditional blood sample test.

Oral HIV tests, called OraQuick, work by collecting mucus from the mouth by placing a cotton ball between the cheek and gum for five minutes. The Food and Drug Administration calls oral test results 99 percent accurate.

Baylor Health Services offers anonymous blood HIV testing for $20 and has results available by appointment the next day. Anonymous HIV testing keeps results accessible only to the person tested.

Health Services also offers HIV counseling and follow-ups.

The Vaccine Research Center Web site said half of the 40,000 people contracting HIV are less than 25 years old.

Baylor Health Center Medical Director Dr. Mark Schwartze said about 70 students are tested each year for HIV in the health center. But the number of students tested outside the university is unknown.

"From what I've personally seen, HIV hasn't been a common problem on campus," Schwartze said. "But we do need to remain vigilant because it is a disease that causes death. At this point, education is the best way to prevent spread."

Freshman Leslie Reiter, from Temple, and Freshman Laura Daley, from Boston agreed with Baylor Health Service's decision to offer blood HIV testing.

"It would be stupid to assume people aren't having sex in college even though it's a Christian community," Daley said. "Not having it would just not allow people to know they have HIV and it could keep spreading."

Daley said orally administered HIV tests would be even better.

"It would eliminate a lot of fear of needles," she said.

Planned Parenthood in Waco charges $63 for HIV blood testing. They provide confidential results within 48 hours. Confidential test results, unlike anonymous results, are accessible to medical personnel.

Hillcrest Health System in Waco charges $124.75 and has confidential test results ready in 24 hours.

Blood bank services like the Red Cross are required to notify donors if their blood donations test positive for HIV.

Universities offering oral HIV tests include West Virginia University, Fairmont State University, Ohio State University, University of Northern Colorado, Pepperdine University, University of Louisville, American University, Albany State University, Kennesaw State University and Glenville State College.