People undergoing diagnostic tests, including screening for viral infections, may sometimes face delays between having the test done and receiving the results. If the delay requires a repeated visit to a clinic or test site, some people fail to return for their results.
However, infection assessment technologies that can produce a rapid result that can then be quickly communicated by trained personnel to patients may be an attractive option. Not only do such tests reduce waiting time but patients with positive test results can, after counselling, be swiftly linked to the healthcare system for assessment, care and the offer of treatment.
Tests that are performed outside of a laboratory, such as in a doctor’s office or community health centre, are called point-of-care tests. A company called OraSure Technologies (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) has developed a rapid oral fluid test for hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies called OraQuick. This test provides results in 20 minutes and was approved in the United States in 2010. Health Canada is assessing the data on this test in order to determine if it will be licensed.