Later this year Barbadians will be able to acquire their HIV statuses in mere minutes as oppose the two week wait it took previously.

This is because of the introduction to Barbados of the Rapid HIV Testing mechanism, which produces a result within 5-30 minutes.

This was divulged by Dr Shirley Lee-Lecher, the United States' director of the Centres for Disease Control's (CDC) Caribbean Regional Office.

Dr. Lee Lecher believes that rapid HIV testing in Barbados will encourage Barbadian males to get tested, according to a news report. The reason the males will suddenly come forward for the test is uncertain.

Rapid HIV testing differs from conventional HIV testing because it allows results of the test to be ready in 5 to 30 minutes, and the test, counseling, and referrals can be done at one visit.

In the USA, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) is now recommending that HIV testing be part of every routine medical exam and physical, because of the success of the Rapid Testing.

The Food and Drug administration has approved four rapid HIV test in the US. The OraQuick quik test for example, consists of a small test paddle. The test area on the paddle is impregnated with HIV-1 and HIV-2 proteins. The test specimen (blood, plasma, or oral fluid) is applied to the paddle (in the case of oral fluid the paddle is swabbed in the inside of the mouth) and placed in developer solution. If the specimen contains HIV, it binds with the impregnated proteins on the HIV testing paddle causing in a red line to appear.

The problem with rapid HIV testing is the occurrence of false positive tests. All positive rapid tests should be confirmed with the conventional ELISA and Western Blot.

The test which could be easily performed at a doctor's visit in due time will encourage all persons to have the test as there is no long waiting period which could be very long in the scheme of things.

This would also be a blessing for those in the medical field in Barbados who at times suffer needle stick injuries. The status of the patient can be immediately known.

The United States agency's Global Aids Programme will bring $25 million annually to the HIV/AIDS fight in the region (not including Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Guyana) surpassed only by sub-Saharan Africa in the prevalence of population affected by the dreaded epidemic.

Part of that project will allow the Ladymeade Reference Unit Laboratory (Barbados) to eventually offer similar testing to St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Dominica, Antigua, and St Kitts-Nevis, which all fall under the CDC's Caribbean mandate.(Nation newspaper)