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Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Seniors' Health Channel
Reported August 11, 2011

Seniors with HIV/AIDS

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- What segment of the population currently has the highest rate of increase of HIV/AIDS cases?  The answer may come as a surprise; senior citizens! Take New Jersey for instance: in the last two years, state residents with HIV/AIDS aged 65 and over grew to over 15 percent!

According to Marilyn Riley, a spokeswoman from the New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services, much of the rise can be linked to seniors not believing they are at risk.  Those in long-term relationships may feel their partner is unlikely to be cheating on them; at the same time, older individuals who are sexually active may not be aware of the dangers of unprotected sex, or may be too embarrassed to seek medical advice.

“The rise of seniors with HIV/AIDS is a relatively recent phenomenon, and one that presents a unique set of challenges for the healthcare community,” Lawrence Siebert, CEO of Chembio Diagnostics, a New York-based developer and manufacturer of point-of-care diagnostic test, was quoted as saying. “Older people didn’t get the lessons about HIV/AIDS that younger generations have received in school.  They are going to be reluctant to inform family members—especially their children—about their concerns.  Yet the fact is that rapid HIV testing can help. Rather than making seniors wait for days to get tested and additional days to get the results, rapid tests exist that can give results in as little as 15 minutes.”

Chembio—which already has two FDA-approved rapid tests for HIV on the market—has created a patented, next-generation testing approach known as Dual Path Platform (DPP®) technology that could form the basis of a new generation of home STD tests. The original focus for DPP® is rapid HIV testing, although it can be adapted to test for numerous infectious diseases. These tests are intended to enable screening for HIV to occur at the point of care, thereby significantly shortening the time to diagnosis and potentially decreasing the opportunity for further transmission.

DPP® enables the development of assays that offer unique features and capabilities such as multiplexing and better control of challenging sample types, such as oral fluid. Tests created to date on DPP® include an oral fluid HIV 1/2 test, a point-of-care confirmatory test for HIV 1/2, and a combination screening and confirmation test for syphilis.  Several other products including tests for hepatitis C and, influenza are in various stages of development. The oral fluid HIV test is being submitted to the FDA for professional use approval this year; thereafter, a separate submission for over-the-counter approval of this product is anticipated.

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