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First Bloodless HIV Test Approved in US - 2004-04-07

Testing populations for HIV is a key to slowing the spread of the virus, and there is good news on that front. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first bloodless rapid HIV test.

Experts say it will make getting tested for the virus that causes AIDS easier and safer. The old version required a needle stick to draw a drop of blood. The new version only needs a swab of the test taker's gums. The test still takes only 20 minutes to get results that are more than 99 percent accurate.

A second test is required to confirm a positive result. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least one quarter of Americans who are HIV positive don't know their status. Experts say easier HIV tests can bring that figure down.