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Universidad de Chile develops new HIV ´quick test´

SANTIAGO – Universidad de Chile is providing an innovative solution to HIV testing. A new quick test will be available soon, researchers say. The test must enable the health ministry to respond better to the alarming rise of HIV cases.

Universidad de Chile will offer a rapid HIV test for free, to tackle the expansion of the virus and facilitate early treatment in case of infection. The initiative is in line with the World Health Organization’s target to reduce the number HIV cases. People who want to take the test should just go to the university with their national  and their university ID.

The “Quick Test” consists of taking a tiny blood sample by pricking a finger. Shortly afterwards, the person receives an exact result – which could save lives. Alejandro Afani, an immunologist at Universidad de Chile, estimates that thousands are infected. That could lead to HIV spreading rapidly, so Afani invited “all young people to come and take the test,” news outlet Biobio reported.

The health ministry sponsors the campaign and helps the launch of Universidad de Chile’s year-long HIV detection campaign. According to Afani, early detection is key since it allows patients to choose the Triple Therapy, which suppresses the virus to undetectable levels in the blood and thus slows down infection.

Sharp rise in HIV cases

During the last few years, the rate of HIV infection has dramatically increased in Chile. Experts like Emilio Santelices of the health ministry and Alejandro Afani confirmed a total of 5.816 cases were detected last year alone, a 96% rise compared with 2010.

The most vulnerable group includes people between 15 and 25 years. According to Afani, “these alarming numbers show that HIV is getting out of control in Chile. The numbers confirm that there could be at least 40,000 people ignoring they are infected.”

Afani criticized that authorities have not adopted a public prevention policy in high schools and universities, where the risk is critical. They have not neither updated treatments nor preventive policies.

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