September 18, 1995
Media Contact: Marc Kusintz
Phone: (410) 955-8665
E-mail: mkusinitz@welchlink.welch.jhu.edu

Johns Hopkins researchers have shown that a home test kit for HIV infection that requires individuals to obtain a small sample of their own blood is accurate and reliable.

"Our study shows that people of diverse backgrounds can understand and follow home HIV test kit instructions and get an adequate blood sample that can be tested in a licensed laboratory," says Judith Feinberg, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins.

"Our findings are important because the future availability of such a kit may provide privacy to people who might otherwise not get themselves tested. And availability of the home test kit may encourage people who have limited access to health care to be tested."

Feinberg was scheduled to present the results of the study at a poster session during the 1995 Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in San Francisco on Sept. 20, at 10:30 a.m.

In order to provide a sample for the home test, called a dried blood spot test, individuals pricked a fingertip with a sterile lancet and put a drop of blood on a small piece of blotting paper. The kit was then sent by mail to a laboratory to test for evidence of HIV. Eighty-five percent of the blood spots were adequate to provide a test result.

The laboratory found that three of 317 blood spot samples were HIV-positive, and that 314 were negative. These results were confirmed by the researchers, who drew blood from a vein after the study participants finished using the test kit in a private room.

Among the participants, 58 percent were female, 20 percent were non-white and 34 percent had no more than a high school education. The median age was 30, and the ages ranged from 18 to 88.

The study was done at several sites around the country to include a wide range of prevalence for HIV infection. For example, in Maryland the rate was 54.4 HIV-infected individuals per 100,000 people, while in Wisconsin, the rate was 7.5 per 100,000 according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The other researchers included John Lee (Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, Wis.); Edward Kelly (Pharmaceutical Product Development, Morrisville, N.C.) and Wendy Strongin (Direct Access Diagnostics, Bridgewater, N.J.).

Funding for the study was provided by Direct Access Diagnostics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

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