Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

HIV Experts Wait for Government Endorsement of North Carolina Test

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

HIV Experts Wait for Government Endorsement of North Carolina Test

Article excerpt

ATLANTA

Three years after a much-heralded HIV test uncovered an outbreak among Black male college students in North Carolina, the promising test still isn't being used in many other places.

Health officials say they are waiting for the government, especially the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to endorse the test before using it. That's frustrating to some experts who believe the innovative test could assist in earlier detection of the virus that causes AIDS, and therefore serve as a key tool in fighting the epidemic.

"The CDC... hasn't been as fast as some of us would like," says Dr. Carlos del Rio, an Emory University HIV expert. "We're not being effective in doing what we're doing. If we want to make changes in this epidemic, we need to take novel approaches and try them."

CDC officials say there's still much to leam about the nucleic acid amplification test - or NAAT - before it can be recommended to health departments across the United States. It's for that reason it was announced at the National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta that the agency will soon study NAAT in Florida and Los Angeles.

The CDC wonders whether the test merely duplicates conventional testing efforts and if it will be cost-effective on a national scale.

"The questions are hard questions. The only way to answer them is to evaluate it," says Dr. Bernard Branson, associate director for lab diagnostics for the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention.

NAAT may provide a new weapon for HIV experts in battling the epidemic. …

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