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New mouth swab HIV test delivers results in 20 minutes

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Doctors at a London hospital hope to carry out around 250 HIV tests a month using a new mouth swab that can produce a result within 20 minutes.

The test, available on the NHS for the first time, will be used in Barts and The London NHS Trust after trials demonstrated that the swab was as accurate as a blood test.

The mouth swab has also proven popular with patients, with 75% stating they prefer the new method to the blood sample, which took a week to return results after analysis.

A special absorbent toothbrush is used to collect saliva samples from the mouth, before delivering the result in 20 minutes.

‘Making testing for HIV quicker and easier is a real step towards getting people to test sooner,’ said Merie Symonds, head of sexual health at the trust.

‘As this test doesn’t require us to take blood or send samples to a laboratory, we can begin to look towards testing outside traditional clinical areas.’

Gay and bisexual men, as well as those from areas of high HIV prevalence, are being offered the new test.

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