October 26, 2000
Contact: Patricia M. Hansen
UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Offers Free Rapid
HIV/AIDS Testing - Oral Test Results in 20 Minutes
New Brunswick — UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School offers Free Rapid
HIV/AIDS testing at multiple sites in New Brunswick, including the
Chandler Health Center and the HIV Rapid Testing Center in Suite I of
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. These programs are among 106
grant-funded sites in the State of New Jersey offering confidential
Rapid/HIV testing and counseling for free.
HIV testing allows individuals to determine whether they have been
infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. For those who test
positive, the awareness can serve to motivate them to take steps to
protect their health and that of their partners. For those who test
negative, the testing process is an opportunity to learn what they can
do to stay uninfected. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates
that more than one million people in the U.S. are now living with HIV,
yet one-fourth don't even know they have it. These facts point to the
importance of HIV testing as a key component in controlling the spread
of HIV infection.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) remain a leading cause of illness and
death in the United States. As of 2004, almost 1 million Americans had
received a diagnosis of AIDS and of those more than half had died.[i][i]
Professor Evan M. Cadoff, MD, and Associate Professor Eugene G. Martin,
PhD, of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at
UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Sindy Paul, MD, the medical
director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Services oversee the testing
program of the New Jersey Rapid HIV/AIDS testing initiative that
recently won a prestigious ASTHO (Association of State and Territorial
Health Officials) award for the New Jersey Department of Health and
Senior Services, Division of HIV/AIDS Services.
Presented at the annual meeting of State and Territorial Health Officers
the ASTHO citation reads, in part, "This innovative program will serve
as an outstanding example to the public health community and will
encourage replication of such initiatives in other states."
It was only three short years ago in November of 2003 that rapid HIV
testing became available in New Jersey. The advantages of rapid testing
are obvious, instead of waiting a week or more for results, patients
could have negative HIV test results in as few as 20 minutes. "The new
test was dramatically better. We saw a 25 percent increase in testing
during the very first year," states Dr. Cadoff.
The return rate for traditional HIV/AIDS testing at counseling and
testing facilities has always been problematic. According to Dr. Cadoff,
"Approximately 35 percent of the patients never came back for their
results-now the results are immediate."
"Over 50,000 tests are expected to be performed this year throughout New
Jersey because of this program," explains Dr. Martin. "With 88
locations, 18 licensed mobile facilities and over 70 trained counselors,
this is one of the largest centralized HIV/AIDS program in the United
The laboratorians possess records of every test and monitor each aspect
of the testing to ensure accuracy and credibility. The protocols
established allow for benchmarking studies that can provide data for
laboratories across the globe.
HIV/AIDS testing began in the early 1980's as a blood test that required
a phlebotomist and a laboratory technologist to perform the test. There
are a number of different rapid testing formats, but the most widely
used rapid HIV test employs either a single drop of blood or a
specialized fluid known as oral mucosal transudate (OMT). In the oral
version of the test, trained counselors swab the testing device between
the patient's upper and lower gums and cheek. The sample is placed into
a specialized solution. The solution passes up through the device
revealing the result in much the same way that a pregnancy test can be
If the test is positive, more testing follows. Today, confirmation of a
positive screening result requires that an additional complex labor
intensive procedure. Most commonly, laboratories perform a Western blot
before reporting a confirmed positive result to a patient. This improves
the reliability of the screening procedure and reduces the possibility
that the result is falsely positive.
Because approximately one to two tests per 1,000 will result in a false
positive, any discordant result (the screening test and the confirmatory
test differ) is cause for review by one of the pathologists in the
Since these events are rare, the experience gained by the entire program
can be shared with a testing site and testing personnel that may
experience the event only once in a year or two. This cooperative
approach assures the best possible outcome and the rapid resolution of
"We want anyone who receives a positive result to speak with a physician
and begin treatment immediately," explains Dr. Cadoff. "Statistics show
that once someone receives their diagnosis, they take extra precautions
with their own health and the health of others by reducing risky
behavior." The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) concur with this
approach and have undertaken a major initiative to help make individuals
more aware of their HIV status as early as possible.
For more information on Rapid HIV/AIDS testing locations, please see
http://www.state.nj.us/health/aids/rapidtesting/location.shtml or call:
1 (866) HIV-CHECK.
 CDC. Cases of HIV infection and AIDS in the United States, 2004.
HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report 2005;16:16--45