In 2006, Brazil will begin using rapid tests developed by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) to diagnose AIDS and syphilis. According to the director of the Brazilian STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases)/AIDS program, Pedro Chequer, the new tests will permit results to be known in around 20 minutes.
These tests will be especially valuable to municipalities in the interior of the country and pregant women.
The test for syphilis, developed in conjunction with the Federal University of Espírito Santo, is in the final stage of evaluation, and the test for AIDS is already being used in communities in the Amazon region.
According to Chequer, this region was chosen, because it has no laboratories to perform this type of diagnosis and because of the difficulty of conducting the countercheck to confirm HIV infection.
“At present the traditional Elisa test is used, and, if the result turns out to be positive, the patient is re-examined, a procedure that usually takes weeks or even months before the outcome is known.
“With the rapid method, however, we do two tests at the same time, and the patient obtains the result in 20 minutes. The mechanism is similar to pregnancy tests, except that, instead of using urine, a small blood sample is taken,” he explained.
According to the Ministry of Health, the number of newborns with problems such as blindness and malformation of the brain, caused by the mothers’ having been infected by syphilis, should also decrease.
Translation: David Silberstein