A rapid home test for HIV, similar to early pregnancy tests, will be considered by a federal advisory committee on Tuesday, a move that many public health experts believe could eventually help calm Americans' fears of HIV, leading them to view it as just another serious chronic illness.
Even if the panel declines to endorse it, several experts said that the growing popularity of home health tests, coupled with the failure to get most people screened at clinics and doctor visits, mean that it is only a matter of time before a rapid HIV test is approved for use at home.
All of the false negatives were in high-prevalence populations. Those missed infections probably were too new to cause an immune response, said Nitika Pant Pai, a physician at McGill University in Montreal who has studied the test in settings around the world and believes it is appropriate for home use. "This is a limitation of all antibody tests," she said. Antibodies aren't produced by the immune system for one to three months after infection, a highly contagious period.