by Terry Lee Derrick
A free new oral swab test for HIV is now available at the Lentz Public Health Center at 311 23 rd Ave. (near Vanderbilt off Elliston Place).
In only twenty short minutes one can find out their status. If there is a positive reading, the clinic will draw blood for lab work. The swab is believed to be 99.7% accurate. It was developed by OraSure Technologies
“Although the test has been out for a year it has only become available in Nashville since September 8,” said Brad Beasley, supervisor of surveillance of HIV/STDs at the Metro Public Health Department. “Also because there are very high syphilis rates in Nashville, although the HIV test is free, we are requiring a blood draw to test for syphilis as well.”
The syphilis test, which is required with the HIV swab test, is free. The tests for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia do cost $10; which includes any necessary treatments.
When asked about the possibility of false negatives Beasley explains, “Whether it is swab or blood draws used for testing, if someone has just had HIV transmitted to them, it can take up to 90 days, maybe even a little longer, for it show up on tests. If someone is being tested for the first time, or because they think they might have had exposure, then they should always follow up in three months and six after that to be sure if their tests are initially negative. Other than that the tests are extremely reliable. There are circumstances where someone has a compromised immune system already due to other chronic illness that can affect the outcome of testing.”
For more information call the Health Department at 615-340-5647.