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Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2013 Jun;33(6):427-32.

Oral rapid test: an alternative to traditional HIV screening in Chile.

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University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.



To compare the sensitivity and specificity of an Oral Rapid Test (ORT) to that of the Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) for HIV testing in Santiago, Chile; to track the number of study participants returning for ELISA testing results; and to analyze the participants' perceptions of the ORT compared to the ELISA.


A total of 497 people were recruited in Santiago, Chile: 153 had previously tested positive for HIV, and 344 were of unknown status. Participants were tested for HIV using both the ELISA and the ORT to examine and compare specificity and sensitivity. Qualitative data were collected from 22 participants to compare perceptions of the testing experience with ORT versus ELISA.


The ELISA reported 184 (37%) of the 497 participants as being "positive" for HIV antibodies; the ORT showed 181 (36.4%) as being "reactive" for HIV. The ORT showed a sensitivity of 98.4% (95.7%-99.9%, 95% Confidence Interval) and specificity of 100%. The Kappa test produced K = 0.983 (P < 0.0001). Of the 344 participants whose HIV status was unknown at the start of the study, 55 failed to return for their ELISA results. Participants positively perceived ORT as having reduced both waiting time and anxiety over obtaining their test results. ORT oral swabbing appeared more practical and less invasive than drawing blood for the ELISA.


The ORT and ELISA were statistically equal in specificity and sensitivity. ORT provides quicker results, potentially ensuring that more people receive them, and does not require handling of or exposure to potentially hazardous blood products.


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