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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first oral human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) test that offers results in 20 minutes. To perform the test, a health care worker swipes a treated cotton swab along a person's gums, picking up cells that line the mouth. She then places the swab into a testing device. Reddish purple lines that appear in a window on the device signal infection.


The new test was developed by OraSure Technologies, Inc., which also makes the rapid blood test for HIV. Both tests are called OraQuick. The oral test is easier on patients and safer for health care workers, who don't run the risk of a needle-stick injury or blood exposure. Although the oral test is more than 99% accurate, people who test positive still need additional testing to confirm HIV infection. For more information, visit the manufacturer's Web site at