Summary: Although use of rapid HIV antibody tests of finger-stick blood specimens could expand voluntary counseling and testing in areas where fear of venipuncture and delays in learning test results are barriers, there is little information on performance and acceptability of these tests in Asia. We used the Hema[middle dot]Strip HIV-1/2 test (Saliva Diagnostic Systems, Vancouver, WA) in a prospective cohort study of HIV seroincidence among women in northern Thailand from 1998 to 1999. Nurses obtained wholeblood specimens by finger-stick testing and provided test results and counseling at each visit. Acceptability of the rapid test was assessed at the first 6-month follow-up visit. HIV-1 seroprevalence among the 804 women screened at enrollment was 3.1%. Positive rapid test results from 25 women were confirmed by enzyme immunoassay and Western blot analysis using serum obtained by venipuncture. Of the 741 women who returned for follow-up, 56% preferred specimen collection by finger-stick testing to venipuncture, 80% preferred immediate rather than delayed test results, 79% preferred the rapid test method to typical testing methods, and 97% were satisfied with the test method used. Results from this study demonstrate the utility and acceptability of the rapid finger-stick test for HIV antibody among women in northern Thailand.
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