Several organizations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City have stopped offering the OraQuick Advance Rapid HIV 1/2 Antibody Test after recording unusually high numbers of false-positive test results. San Francisco health officials say about one fifth of those at city clinics the OraQuick oral test identified as HIV-positive were actually HIV-negative; the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center stopped offering the tests after recording 13 false-positive results in November alone.
The test uses fluids obtained from an oral swab to screen for HIV antibodies, producing results in about 20 minutes. There have been no problems reported with a similar version of the rapid-results test that uses a drop of blood obtained from a finger-stick, and health officials are urging any positive oral-test result be immediately followed up with such a blood test.
Test maker OraSure Technologies says the company is investigating the situation and says the problem appears to be localized in California and New York City. Most sites across the country offering the rapid oral tests are reporting false-positive rates within the label claims for the product, OraSure officials say.