Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg has welcomed the news that the green light has been given to rapid HIV testing in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The test will be available in Queensland this year, cutting the waiting period for HIV results from weeks to half an hour.

Ministerial Advisory Committee chair Darren Russell also welcomed the announcement that the test, which has already been used internationally for some time, has finally been approved for marketing in Australia.

“The new Alere Determine Combo HIV ½ Ag/Ab test is already in use internationally. It ensures people newly infected with HIV can access treatment more quickly,” Russell said.

“To ensure accuracy and the correct interpretation of results, the test is to be conducted by qualified health professionals. It cannot be used at home.”

Despite a few logistical issues still needing to be dealt with, Russell was confident the new tests would be available soon.

Springborg repeated his commitment to tackling HIV/AIDS in the state and said that the speed and accuracy of the new test was a great development in dealing with the disease.

“It will undoubtedly assist at-risk people to quickly access their possible HIV status. That means better health for the patient and a lower risk of passing on the virus,” he said.

Queensland Association for Healthy Communities (QAHC) executive director Paul Martin also welcomed the announcement made by Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon late last year.

“Healthy Communities has long called for the introduction of rapid testing in Australia, and we are very pleased that the TGA has approved a test for use,” Martin told the Star Observer.

“We look forward to finding out more about how, when and where the test will be available.

“We are encouraged by comments from Minister Springborg that he is keen to see rapid tests in Queensland. We hope to see them available in community as well as clinical setting.”

QAHC has been running a trial of rapid HIV testing along with regular testing for HIV and syphilis as a part of their new Testing Point service since November.

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