Showing posts with label Testing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Testing. Show all posts

March 30, 2020

Test to Advise You On What To Do On COVID-19 from Apple

 Installing a 5500 bed hospital in Madrid for Covid-19

Apple is come up with a test in which you answer a few questions (without giving any personal information) and at the end of the very short questionaire it recommends wether you should look up your health provider.

I took the test and it gave me recomendations to rest and drink a lot of fluids, whch is what my doctor tells me when ever I see him. Nothing new here. It did not say I have it but because I have 3 underlying conditions it implied I should be tested but the main recomendation was for rest and taking a lot of fluids. If you take it, you can either share it with the rest of or not. The recomendations it gives are already things you might have heard or read from doctors.

Nothing new for me, but it might be different for you. This is just one more tool about a virus that keeps mutating. Yes, some cases are weaker but I understand from Korea that the Virus that hit Italy and is hitting us here tends to have mutated for a stronger virus.

In the United States we are behind the ball according to Korea Times because we started late in taking precautions but the worse is we don't have testing for everyone. If we did like Germany it will a different ball game and the U.S ahead of this virus.. In  Korea BUT PARTICUALRY GERMANY!! They know where the virus is and where is going. Germany that had a wonderful system to test came up with a test right away. Trump refused the tests from the World Health Organization (WHO)but wanted to quietly buy Germany's..When life and death is at stake money looses it's value very quickly!

 How strong it is and where are the weak mutations coming from?. The epidemic experts in Korea say that even a vaccine that was developed today would not help much today. This is because what any vaccine does which is kick your immune system into overtime to fight this particular virus. The virus is here so the vsccine wont help right now. The vaccines take months to have any effect on your immune system, that is why they suggest you get the flu vaccine months before the winter. That is to give your immune system 6 months or more to start fighting the disease. The efforts must be centralized in getting a med that helps those already sick and testing for all!!! 

Adamfoxie's opinion:

While in the U.S. the White House is busy running a reelection campaign it cannot do both: Fight a killer and make the President look good. He hasn't realized that the more people get sick and die, particualrly because the Federal government is been late on everything , since is only one man making the ultimate decisions, the worse he will look. He had a chance to be a saviour a hero..nature gave him that chance, but as usual his big ego in the center did not allow him to see it. He never saw it. Instead he is just a voice instructing the players to go here or go there, respirators to New York then pull them out because he found out NY had the ones not in used in a wearhouse. Where else would NY keep them particualry since the local governemnt is doing something Trump never did and is to prepare after the eye of the strorm is passed and PART II COMES IN.

This is the apple website:

COVID-19 Screening Tool

This tool can help you understand 
what to do next about COVID-19.
Let’s all look out for
 each other 
by knowing our status, 
trying not to infect others, 
and reserving care for those in need.

Last weekend, Google also launched
 a national website that provides users 
with information and alerts about the coronavirus.

March 17, 2020

What We Know About The Virus and Asymptomatic's May Be Spreading The Virus in Silence

These officials have emphasized that the virus is spread mainly by people who are already showing symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing. If that's true, it's good news, since people who are obviously ill can be identified and isolated, making it easier to control an outbreak. 
But it appears that a Massachusetts coronavirus cluster with at least 82 cases was started by people who were not yet showing symptoms, and more than half a dozen studies have shown that people without symptoms are causing substantial amounts of infection. {CNN}
Image result for corona testing


The medical impact of the new coronavirus is coming into sharper focus as it continues its spread in what is now officially recognized as a pandemic.  
Its true fatality rate isn't yet known, but it seems 10 times higher than the flu, which kills hundreds of thousands around the world each year, the United States' top infectious disease expert told lawmakers last week.
Most people have had mild to moderate illness and recovered, but the virus is more serious for those who are older or have other health problems.
That's a huge number, said Dr. Tom Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who now heads a global health organization. In the U.S., 60% of adults have at least one underlying health condition and 42% have two or more.
"There's still a lot that we don't know about the virus and disease it causes, COVID-19," he said.
How it spreads
Most spread is from droplets produced when an infected person coughs, which are inhaled by people nearby. Transmission from touching contaminated surfaces hasn't been shown yet, though recent tests by U.S. scientists suggest it's possible -- one reason they recommend washing your hands and not touching your face.
The virus can live in the air for several hours, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Cleaning surfaces with solutions containing diluted bleach should kill it.
“While we are still learning about the biology of this virus, it does not appear that there is a major risk of spread through sweat,” said Julie Fischer, a Georgetown University microbiologist. The biggest concern about going to the gym is infected people coughing on others, or contaminating shared surfaces or equipment, she said. Consider avoiding large classes and peak hours and don't go if you're coughing or feverish, she suggests.
The risk of virus transmission from food servers is the same risk as transmission from other infected people, but “one of the concerns is that food servers, like others facing stark choices about insurance and paychecks, may be pressured to work even if they are sick,” she said.
How fast does it spread?
Each infected person spreads to two or three others on average, researchers estimate. It spreads more easily than flu but less than measles, tuberculosis or some other respiratory diseases. It is not known if it spreads less easily among children, but fewer of them have been diagnosed with the disease. A study of 1,099 patients in China found that 0.9% of the cases were younger than 15.
What are the symptoms?
Most people get fever and cough, sometimes fatigue or shortness of breath, and recover after about two weeks. About 15% develop severe disease, including pneumonia, Chinese scientists reported from 45,000 cases there. Symptoms usually start slowly and often worsen as the illness goes on.
In a report last week on the first 12 patients in the U.S., seven were hospitalized; most had underlying health problems and got worse during the second week of illness.
In China, slightly more males have been diagnosed with COVID-19 than females, which might be because roughly half of Chinese men smoke but only 5% of females do, Frieden said.
Children seem to get less sick -- a report on 10 in China found that fevers tended to be milder and they lacked clear signs of pneumonia.
What does it feel like?
Some cruise ship passengers described symptoms similar to the common cold or flu.
“It’s been a 2 on a scale of 10,” said Carl Goldman, who was hospitalized in Omaha, Nebraska, after flying home.
However, a Chinese postgraduate student described going to the hospital twice after her symptoms worsened, and feeling "a heavy head while walking, unable to breathe, and nauseous."
What's the test like?
The CDC recommends at least two swabs -- nose and throat. Samples are sent to labs that look for bits of viral genetic material, which takes roughly 4 to 6 hours. Altogether, it can take several days to ship a sample and get results back.
It's been taking two to three days, and "we are working really hard to see if we can shorten that time" by developing an in-house test, Dr. Aimee Moulin of the University of California, Davis said Thursday in a conference call held by the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Some areas have opened drive-thru sites for testing, which could reduce exposure to health workers and other patients or the public.
When is the virus most contagious?
The average time from exposure to developing symptoms is five to six days, but can be up to two weeks. Tests have found high amounts of virus in the throats and noses of people a couple of days before they show symptoms.
Signs of virus also have been found in stool weeks after patients recover, but that doesn't mean it’s capable of causing illness, scientists warn.
"The virus can be degraded," said Robert Webster, a St. Jude Children's Research Center virus expert. "It's not necessarily infectious virus at all."
How deadly is it?
That won't be known until large studies are done to test big groups of people to see how many have been infected and with or without symptoms.
Scientists have estimated the fatality rate from less than 1% to as high as 4% among cases diagnosed so far, depending on location.
Flu kills about 0.1% of those it infects, so the new virus seems about 10 times more lethal, the National Institutes of Health's Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress last week.
The death rate has been higher among people with other health problems -- more than 10% for those with heart disease, for example. In the U.S., 30 million have diabetes, more than 70 million are obese and nearly 80 million have high blood pressure.
Can infected people who recover get it again?
It's not known. A few reports from China say some people had COVID-19, recovered and then fell ill again. It's unclear if that's a relapse, a new infection, or a case where the person never fully recovered in the first place.
Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle say the 30,000-letter genetic code of the virus changes by one letter every 15 days. It's not known how many of these changes would be needed for the virus to seem different enough to the immune system of someone who had a previous version of it for it to cause a fresh infection.
Fauci told Congress on Thursday that it was unlikely that someone could get reinfected.
“We haven’t formally proved it, but it is strongly likely that that’s the case,” he said. “Because if this acts like any other virus, once you recover, you won’t get reinfected.”
Will it go away in the summer?
Flu fades each spring and the new virus may do the same, Fauci said last week in a podcast with a journal editor.
"I am hoping that as we get into the warmer weather we will see a decline that will give us a chance to get our preparedness up to speed," Fauci said.
But that, too, is far from certain. “We have to assume that the virus will continue to have the capacity to spread, and it’s a false hope to say yes, it will just disappear in the summertime like influenza,” said Dr. Michael Ryan, the World Health Organization’s emergencies chief.
Flu viruses also mutate quickly, requiring new vaccines to be made each year. If the coronavirus follows suit, Frieden said, "It could become a virus that circulates around the world for many years to come."

August 3, 2017

American Intercontinental Minuteman Gets Tested in Via of North Korea's Threat

— The Pentagon conducted a test of an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile on Wednesday, with the timing expected to be of note in both North Korea, which recently tested its missile arsenal, and in China, which has been urged by the Trump administration to pressure North Korea on its nuclear program.The test came a day after Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said that the United States was not seeking a regime change in North Korea and would be willing to talk to Pyongyang.“We do not seek a collapse of the regime, we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th Parallel,” Mr. Tillerson told reporters at the State Department on Tuesday. Mr. Tillerson assured North Korea “we are not your enemy,” but added that Pyongyang “is presenting an unacceptable threat to us and we have to respond.”  “We would like to sit and have a dialogue with them,” Mr. Tillerson said.American intelligence agencies recently said that North Korea was developing a missile that could reach the interior of the United States in about a year.“We’ll handle North Korea,” President Trump said on Monday before he met with his cabinet. “We’re going to be able to handle them. It will be handled. We handle everything.” The unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, according to an official statement from the Air Force Global Strike Command released early Wednesday after the test was completed.“While not a response to recent North Korean actions, the test demonstrates that the United States’ nuclear enterprise is safe, secure, effective and ready to be able to deter, detect and defend against attacks on the United States and its allies,” the statement said.The statement said the missile’s re-entry vehicle traveled about 4,200 miles over the Pacific Ocean to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The test was described as a way to “verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.”

February 21, 2015

HIV Testing is rising in the Uk but Their Knowledge of Prevention is down


Some men are testing more frequently

With health services and HIV prevention organisations now having relentlessly focused on HIV testing for several years, new data suggest that more English gay men have recently taken an HIV test, have good knowledge of HIV testing and were happy with testing services. But the data, from the 2014 Gay Men’s Sex Survey, also include signs of decreases in basic knowledge of safer sex and of poorer access to condoms.
“Are we putting all our prevention needs in one testing basket?” Ford Hickson of Sigma Research asked the HIV Prevention England conference in London yesterday.
Over the last decade, HIV testing has become a public health priority and many more clinical services have invited gay and bisexual men to test. An increasing proportion of HIV prevention campaigns have focused on testing and many local HIV prevention services have offered testing as part of their outreach work. But some feel that some of the other ‘bread and butter’ issues of HIV prevention may have been neglected.
The data presented were the first to emerge from the 2014 Gay Men’s Sex Survey, which recruited a large convenience sample of men through dating websites and apps, Facebook promotion and HIV organisations
The data are cross-sectional, but comparisons are made between the surveys conducted in 2010 and 2014. In order to improve the validity of these comparisons, only men recruited through dating websites and apps are included (the other recruitment methods weren’t used in 2010). Moreover, there was statistical adjustment for observed differences between the samples (geographical area, average age, level of education, employment and identifying as ‘gay’). The comparison is of 11,519 men in 2010 and 6784 men in 2014.
The proportion that had ever taken an HIV test rose, from 72% in 2010 to 77% in 2014. 
But the biggest changes were in how recently the test had been taken. Across the sample, the proportion that had tested for HIV in the past year jumped from 43% in 2010 to 56% in 2014. Amongst those who had ever tested, the proportion who had done so in the past year increased from 66 to 75%. 
The differences between 2010 and 2014 were statistically significant after adjustment for confounding factors.
But as more men were tested, a lower proportion were diagnosed with HIV at that test. Moreover those diagnosed reported similar CD4 cell counts in the two surveys, suggesting that the increase in the frequency of HIV testing may have primarily occurred in men who did not have undiagnosed HIV.
The increase in testing volume was not at the expense of service quality. In 2014, 80% of those testing negative and 84% of those testing positive were ‘very satisfied’ with the way the service kept their confidentiality; and 79% of those testing negative and 82% of those testing positive were ‘very satisfied’ with the respect they were treated with. These figures were actually higher than they had been in 2010. Fewer men testing negative received counselling in 2014, but this did not affect men’s satisfaction.
On indicators of basic knowledge about HIV testing, there were no changes between the surveys. Only 3% did not know that you can’t work out someone’s HIV status from their appearance, 1% did not know that testing exists and 10% were not aware that tests have window periods. Men remained confident that they could get an HIV test if they wanted one.
The proportion of men expressing some degree of doubt or uncertainty about their own HIV-negative status increased. This is in keeping with the aims of health promotion – people who have taken a sexual risk since their last HIV test should not take their HIV-negative status for granted.
More worryingly, gaps in knowledge of safer sex appear to be widening. These changes were small but statistically significant. Compared to 2010, more men did not know that sexually transmitted infections increase the risk of HIV transmission (up from 39 to 42%), that the insertive sexual partner (‘top’) can acquire HIV during anal sex (up from 10 to 15%) or that HIV cannot be passed on during kissing (up from 19 to 21%).  
And more men reported problems getting hold of condoms. In the past month, 7.7% of men had wanted a condom but did not have one and 5.2% had had unprotected sex for that reason. (The 2010 figures were 6.5 and 3.8% respectively.)
Ford Hickson suggested that health organisations’ singular focus on HIV testing – sometimes to the expense of education around safer sex or condom distribution programmes – may be having an impact. While HIV testing has improved, needs around safer sex have got worse. 

HIV testing: comparison with other data

Since 2001, data from successive Gay Men’s Sex Surveys have shown increases in the proportion of respondents who have ever taken an HIV test. A previously published comparison showed that 46% had ever tested in 2001 and 66% had done so in 2007. While the most recent edition had somewhat different recruitment methods (making comparisons problematic), it showed that 77% had tested.
But men who are recruited through dating websites and apps do not represent the whole population of men who have sex with men (MSM). The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal)recruited a large, representative sample from households throughout Great Britain, making it more likely than other studies to give representative data. The proportions of MSM testing are much lower in this survey than described above, although it has recorded a rise over a twenty-year period, from 34% in 1990, to 39% in 2000 and 52% in 2010. Moreover, concerning testing in the past year, this was only reported by 27% of gay men in 2010 (compared to 43% in that year's Gay Men’s Sex Survey). 
And while the vast majority of gay men attending sexual health clinics do take an HIV test, the number of clinic attendees is much lower than the estimated population of gay men, also suggesting that many men test infrequently. While we don’t have figures for tests conducted in GP surgeries, other medical settings, community settings or at home, this is unlikely to make up the shortfall.

Roger Pebody


Hickson F et al. HIV prevention objectives among MSM in England: Data from Gay Men's Sex Surveys 2010 and 2014. HIV Prevention England conference, London, 19 February 2015.

July 3, 2014

You Might Have been one of 7k FaceBook Tests Rats in 2012


Facebook’s disclosure last week that it had tinkered with about 700,000 users’ news feeds as part of a psychology experiment conducted in 2012 inadvertently laid bare what too few tech firms acknowledge: that they possess vast powers to closely monitor, test and even shape our behavior, often while we’re in the dark about their capabilities.

The publication of the study, which found that showing people slightly happier messages in their feeds caused them to post happier updates, and sadder messages prompted sadder updates, sparked a torrent of outrage from people who found it creepy that Facebook played with unsuspecting users’ emotions. Because the study was conducted in partnership with academic researchers, it also appeared to violate long-held rules protecting people from becoming test subjects without providing informed consent. Several European privacy agencies have begun examining whether the study violated local privacy laws.
Facebook said last week that it deliberately manipulated the emotional content of posts in the news feeds of nearly 700,000 users to see if emotions were contagious.Bits Blog: Facebook’s Secret Manipulation of User Emotions Faces European InquiriesJULY 2, 2014
Facebook revealed that it had altered the news feeds of over half a million users in its study.Facebook Tinkers With Users’ Emotions in News Feed Experiment, Stirring OutcryJUNE 29, 2014
But there may be other ways to look at the Facebook study and its publication. For one thing, studying how we use social media may provide important insights into some of the deepest mysteries of human behavior.

Facebook and much of the rest of the web are thriving petri dishes of social contact, and many social science researchers believe that by analyzing our behavior online, they may be able to figure out why and how ideas spread through groups, how we form our political views and what persuades us to act on them, and even why and how people fall in love.

Most web companies perform extensive experiments on users for product testing and other business purposes, but Facebook has been unusually forward in partnering with academics interested in researching questions that aren’t immediately pertinent to Facebook’s own business. Already, those efforts have yielded several important social science findings.

But there’s another benefit in encouraging research on Facebook: It is only by understanding the power of social media that we can begin to defend against its worst potential abuses. Facebook’s latest study proved it can influence people’s emotional states; aren’t you glad you know that? Critics who have long argued that Facebook is too powerful and that it needs to be regulated or monitored can now point to Facebook’s own study as evidence.

It is problematic that Facebook roped users into the study without their express consent. The company has apologized, and now says it will look at ways to improve its guidelines for conducting research. “After the feedback from this study, we are taking a very hard look at this process,” said Jonathan Thaw, a Facebook spokesman.

If Facebook figured out a way to be more transparent about its research, wouldn’t you rather know what Facebook can do with the mountains of information it has on all of us?

Wouldn’t you also be interested in what other tech firms know about us? How does Google’s personalized search algorithm reinforce people’s biases? How does Netflix’s design shape the kinds of TV shows we watch? How does race affect how people navigate dating sites?

Continue reading the main story
After the outcry against the Facebook research, we may see fewer of these studies from the company and the rest of the tech industry. That would be a shames.

“It would be kind of devastating,” said Tal Yarkoni, a psychology researcher at the University of Texas at Austin who works on methods for studying large sets of data. “Until now, if you knew the right person at Facebook and asked an interesting question, a researcher could actually get collaborators at Facebook to work on these interesting problems. But Facebook doesn’t have to do that. They have a lot to lose and almost nothing to gain from publishing.”

If you’ve been cast in a Google or Facebook experiment, you’ll usually never find out. Users who are put into experimental groups are selected at random, generally without their knowledge or express permission. While Facebook says people agree to such tests when they sign up for the site, users aren’t given any extra notice when they’re included in a study.

Continue reading the main story

Op-Ed Contributor: Jaron Lanier on Lack of Transparency in Facebook StudyJUNE 30, 2014
One problem is that obtaining consent may complicate experimental results.

“Facebook could throw up a bubble asking people to opt-in to each test, but it would totally mess up the results, because people would be selecting themselves into the test,” Mr. Yarkoni said. (Offline social-science and medical researchers face a similare problem.) Another option would be for users to be periodically asked whether they wanted to take part in research, but some research ethicists have balked at the prospect of not giving users individual notice of each study.

Ryan Calo, an assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Law who studies technology policy, has called for firms that conduct experiments on their users to create “consumer subject review boards,” a kind of internal ombudsman who would assess each proposed experiment and balance the potential risks to users against the potential rewards. The board would also be able to offer a set of explanations when there is a question about why certain experiments were approved.

“There’s enough pressure and understanding of this issue that these firms are going to have to come up with a way to make the public and regulators comfortable with experimenting with consumers,” Mr. Calo said.

Much of the research that Facebook and Google conduct to improve their own products is secret. Some is not. Google has acknowledged running about 20,000 experiments on its search results every year. It once tested 41 different shades of blue on its site, each color served to a different group, just to see which hue garnered the most engagement from users.

Over the last few years, Facebook has expanded what it calls its Data Science team to conduct a larger number of public studies. The company says the team’s mission is to alter our understanding of human psychology and communication by studying the world’s largest meeting place. So far, it has produced several worthy insights.

In 2012, the Data Science team published a study that analyzed more than 250 million users; the results shot down the theory of “the filter bubble,” the long-held fear that online networks show us news that reinforces our beliefs, locking us into our own echo chambers. Like the new study on people’s emotions, that experiment also removed certain stories from people’s feeds.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
In another experiment, Facebook randomly divided 61 million American users into three camps on Election Day in 2010, and showed each group a different, nonpartisan get-out-the-vote message (or no message at all). The results showed that certain messages significantly increased the tendency of people to vote — not just of people who used Facebook, but even their friends who didn’t.

Zeynep Tufekci, an assistant professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, points out that many of these studies serve to highlight Facebook’s awesome power over our lives.

“I read that and I said, ‘Wait, Facebook controls elections,'” she said. “If they can nudge all of us to vote, they could nudge some of us individually, and we know they can model whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat — and elections are decided by a couple of hundred thousand voters in a handful of states. So the kind of nudging power they have is real power.”

Ms. Tufekci has offered a stirring call to arms against Facebook, Google and other giant web firms because of their power to shape what we do in the world. She makes a worthy argument.

But if every study showing Facebook’s power is greeted with an outcry over its power, Facebook and other sites won’t disclose any research into how they work. And isn’t it better to know their strength, and try to defend against it, than to never find out at all?

June 26, 2014

Outrageous Statistics! One in Six are HIV but Don’t Know it


One in six people living with HIV don’t know it. That means these individuals are not getting the treatment they need to stay healthy and may be passing the virus on to others unknowingly. In honor of National HIV Testing Day this Friday, health officials at the health department of Orange and Seminole counties are sponsoring free HIV testing at two locations.

To encourage residents to get tested, the health departments is joining community partners to host “Take the Test, Take Control” screening events. The HIV awareness and prevention campaign emphasizes the importance of making residents aware of their HIV status and of learning about access to prevention and health care. 

In Orange County, free HIV testing will be available from noon to 7 p.m. at Walgreens, 2420 East Colonial Drive, Friday, June 27. Free BMI, glucose and blood pressure tests will also be available. The event is sponsored by Walgreens, Heart of Florida United Way, the Florida Department of Health in Orange County and the Central Florida AIDS Planning Consortium.

In Seminole County, free HIV testing will be available at the health department at 400 West Airport Boulevard, Sanford from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and from 1p.m. to 3 p.m.

“Testing is so important, because routine HIV testing protects individuals, partners and the community's health,” said Dr. Kevin Sherin, director of the Orange County health department.

“AIDS-related deaths occur when people who are infected do not receive the testing, treatment, and care they need,” said Dr. Swannie Jett, health officer for the Seminole County health department.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care, and that those who have risk factors get tested more often. Gay and bisexual men, and people who have more than one sex partner, have a sexually transmitted disease, or inject drugs are at high risk and should get tested at least annually.

This year marks the 20th annual National HIV Testing Day. For more information, on National HIV Testing Day, go to in six people living with HIV don’t know it. That means these individuals are not getting the treatment they need to stay healthy and may be passing the virus on to others unknowingly. In honor of National HIV Testing Day this Friday, health officials at the health department of Orange and Seminole counties are sponsoring free HIV testing at two locations.

To encourage residents to get tested, the health departments is joining community partners to host “Take the Test, Take Control” screening events. The HIV awareness and prevention campaign emphasizes the importance of making residents aware of their HIV status and of learning about access to prevention and health care. 

In Orange County, free HIV testing will be available from noon to 7 p.m. at Walgreens, 2420 East Colonial Drive, Friday, June 27. Free BMI, glucose and blood pressure tests will also be available. The event is sponsored by Walgreens, Heart of Florida United Way, the Florida Department of Health in Orange County and the Central Florida AIDS Planning Consortium.

In Seminole County, free HIV testing will be available at the health department at 400 West Airport Boulevard, Sanford from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and from 1p.m. to 3 p.m.

“Testing is so important, because routine HIV testing protects individuals, partners and the community's health,” said Dr. Kevin Sherin, director of the Orange County health department.

“AIDS-related deaths occur when people who are infected do not receive the testing, treatment, and care they need,” said Dr. Swannie Jett, health officer for the Seminole County health department.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care, and that those who have risk factors get tested more often. Gay and bisexual men, and people who have more than one sex partner, have a sexually transmitted disease, or inject drugs are at high risk and should get tested at least annually.

This year marks the 20th annual National HIV Testing Day. For more information, on National HIV Testing Day, go to 

December 6, 2013

New Mass HIV Testing Easy and Accessible

A new device intends to make diagnosing AIDS easier and more accessible for people in developing countries.

The instrument would eliminate the need for expensive equipment and highly trained staff, resources that are not available in many areas where the HIV epidemic is most severe.

HIV kills by destroying a particular type of disease-fighting white blood cells called CD4+ T lymphocytes. Full-blown AIDS sets in when patients’ CD4 counts fall below a critical level and they are unable to fight off infections. That’s when antiretroviral drugs are critical.

But counting CD4 cells requires a blood sample and a lab equipped to analyze it. In many areas hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic - much of sub-Saharan Africa, for example, “there is just no way to get the patient or the blood very easily to the lab,” said Rashid Bashir, head of the bioengineering department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Lab on a chip

So, Bashir and colleagues have developed a prototype “lab on a chip” with all the equipment and chemicals to do the job in a 3-centimeter-by-4-centimeter cartridge.

Bashir has a stake in Daktari Diagnostics, Inc., which is working to commercialize the chip and develop a hand-held, battery-powered reader.

“The promise is to bring the lab to the patient rather than the patient to the lab,” he said.

The device uses just a drop of blood. It separates the oxygen-carrying red cells from the disease-fighting white cells. It then isolates and counts the CD4 lymphocytes among those white cells.

Simple sample prep

Lehigh University bioengineering professor Xuanhong Cheng is not involved in the research, but she said combining processing and detection in one chip is an advantage over other CD4 counters in development.

“A lot of people just look at the detection side,” she said. “But if the sample has to be processed using very complicated methods, then it’s still not quite applicable in resource-limited settings.”

Bashir also sees applications for blood tests for infections or assessing a patient’s immune status prior to chemotherapy.

“Essentially, any application where blood cell counts are done, our goal is to turn that into a cartridge and a point-of-care device,” he added.

It will be at least a few years before any of them hit the market. Cheng also is working on developing a prototype CD4 counter into a product, and she noted, “The way that we make a device in a lab is very different from industrial manufacturing processes. So, the process is not as straightforward as some people would think.”

The need for these tools is urgent, though, and she said she’s glad for the competition.

“Definitely we need more people working on the area of global health diagnostics. I think we definitely need more new technologies,” said Cheng.

September 15, 2013

Health Officials and Politicians Are Going To Craig List to Have You

An increase in the number of people diagnosed with the HIV virus, which causes AIDS, has spurred new strategies to encourage testing.
The Madison County AIDS Program has free walk-in testing available from 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at its office at 2016 Madison Avenue in Granite City. It also has a variety of new methods to reach the most susceptible residents, according to the program's Prevention Coordinator Andrea Stafford.
"We're trying to promote healthy relationships, promote condom use and talking to partners about HIV testing," Stafford said. "We are also trying to do more through social media and posting our services on Craiglist because some people advertise for sex on there. Our outreach workers also post flyers at bars and clubs in the area, particularly gay bars."
Expanding testing hours and making an effort to reach out to residents has raised awareness, Stafford said.
"I think convenience has a lot to do with it," she said. "A lot of clients are scared to come in initially. When they work up the courage to come in and get tested, they are more likely to come right then versus setting an appointment for such and such a time."
The Madison County AIDS Program offers a variety of services in addition to testing, including outreach, surveillance, linkage to care, prevention education and partner services.
The St. Clair County Health Department administers the Ryan White HIV Care Services, a state-funded program providing medical care, risk-reduction education and other supportive services. Access to these services helps residents with HIV or AIDS manage the virus and prevent the spread of HIV, according to HIV Program Manager Tina Markovich.
"A great deal of effort is made to assure individuals living with HIV/AIDS are aware of the Ryan White HIV Care Program and those unaware of their status know where they can go for HIV testing," Markovich said. "Everyone should know their HIV status. The only way to know your HIV status is to get tested. It is most often those who don't know their status, or those who are aware of their status but not compliant with their medical care and medications, who spreading the virus."
Meanwhile, Illinois HIV Care Connect, a statewide program, is launching a social media campaign to reach younger residents and a Spanish-language website. Care Connect is a state program of the Illinois Department of Public Health and supported by the Illinois Public Health Association.
"This effort is all about extending HIV prevention and treatment across Illinois," said Tom Hughes, executive director of the Public Health Association. "By preventing HIV and helping those living with HIV find early and ongoing treatment, we can improve health outcomes and reduce medical costs." Statewide, 2,390 people were diagnosed with HIV or AIDS in the past year.
Care Connect launched a website in English in 2009. More than 800 people visit the site per month, according to program coordinators. A Spanish version of the website was recently launched to help Illinois' Hispanic population. For more information, go to
A lack of health-care coverage also prevents from being tested for the disease, according to Jeffery Erdman with the Illinois Public Health Association.
"A lot of people may be HIV positive and don't know because they are not tested," Erdman said. "A quarter of the people with HIV don't even know they are HIV positive. What we also know is most of infections, 50 to 60 percent, occur among people who don't know they are positive."
Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at or 618-239-2501.

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December 9, 2012

HIV Home Testing a Game Changer } Magic Johnson

Is HIV Home Testing a Game-Changer? Magic Johnson Thinks So 
As the first over-the-counter HIV test becomes available nationwide, here's how it will really affect HIV diagnosis and treatment. Plus, an exclusive interview with Magic Johnson on the problem with the state of the HIV/AIDS fight.
By Lauren Gelman 
Nearly 21 years after his very public announcement of his HIV status and retirement 
from the NBA, Magic Johnson has become the most important public face of not
 surviving, but thriving, with HIV.
But he’s worried about the current complacency around the life-threatening virus,
 which 1.15 million Americans currently have (and 18 percent don’t know it). 
He acknowledges that his robust, healthy appearance may be a double-edged
 sword when it comes to public perception of the HIV threat. “You can’t have 
that attitude that ‘if I get it, I’m going to be like Magic,’” he says. “Early detection
 saved my life. We jumped on a regimen right away. We have to put the fear back
 in people that you could die.”
What’s more, Johnson says that people aren’t talking about HIV and feeling the pressure
 to get tested like they used to when he first began advocating for the cause. He is 
optimistic that the new OraQuick In-home test will be a game-changer by giving 
people the freedom to get tested wherever they feel comfortable.
Johnson ascribes his own ability to live well with HIV to a conversation he had with 
his doctor when he was first diagnosed, in which he asked what the people who have 
been living with HIV for a long time do to stay healthy. “Take your meds, positive 
attitude, and continue to work out,” was the answer he got. “I knew I had to accept 
my new status,” Johnson says today. “If you don’t put the meds with a positive
 attitude and the thinking that everything’s going to be OK, it will be tough for you.”
The AIDS patient and activist Elizabeth Glaser encouraged Johnson back in 1991 
to go public with his status, which he now says is the best decision he and his wife 
ever made. “It really helped the HIV/AIDS fight at the time because it brought a face 
to it, and let people talk openly about it.
“I’ll never forget [Elizabeth Glaser],” he continues. “That’s why I always talk about her. 
I carry her torch as I’m doing the things I do in the HIV/AIDS fight.”
   Confess   Fatal Mistakes Many were quick to say so when the FDA approved the first over-the-counter test, called OraQuick, this past July. The same exact test that doctors and health care professionals have used since 2004, OraQuick—which uses an oral fluid sample to detect HIV antibodies in as little as 20 minutes—is currently rolling out to more than 30,000 drug and other retail stores nationwide. But some in the health care community aren’t so sure. Case in point: An interesting paper in this week’s Annals of Internal Medicine, which argues that the test is not a game-changer. “We applaud the FDA’s decision to promote healthy sexual behaviors by making HIV tests more available and convenient,” write authors A. David Paltiel, MD, and Rochelle P. Walensky, MD. “However we doubt that OraQuick will have much effect in either lowering barriers to care or reducing HIV transmission.” I had the opportunity to learn more about the new test at a luncheon sponsored by its manufacturer, OraSure Technologies, with special guest Magic Johnson, who is working with the company to promote the test and raise awareness for the importance of early detection and treatment of HIV.

After speaking with OraSure CEO Douglas Michels and Magic, my take is this: The OraQuick test is undoubtedly an important milestone in the ability to diagnose HIV in a private home setting and the buzz around its approval and retail store roll-out is a great way to reignite the message of the importance of knowing your HIV status. But would-be test users need to inform themselves about the pros and cons of the test to decide if it’s right for them.
Some key facts to know:
1. The test is only a reliable indicator of your HIV status three months ago. That’s because it takes up to that long for your body to develop antibodies to the virus that the test detects. So if you want to test in response to a potential exposure incident from last week or even last month, this test—nor one given in the doctor’s office, for that matter—can give you that reassurance.
If you are concerned about a specific incident, experts recommend you get tested right away to learn your baseline status, and then again six weeks later.
2. A negative result isn’t a 100 percent guarantee of being HIV-free. The OraQuick home test has a false negative rate of one in 12, which means that one in 12 people who are infected with HIV will get a negative result when they take it. Testing too close to the potential exposure increases these chances. On the other hand, the false positive rate is extremely low (about one in 5,000).
If you test positive, it’s important to see a doctor immediately for further testing to confirm the diagnosis and also to learn the staging of disease so you can get the right treatment ASAP.
3. The test costs $40 and isn’t covered by insurance. There are cheaper ways to learn your status, including through free clinics or through your health care provider, if you have insurance.
Other concerns about the home test involve making sure patients who test positive get immediate emotional and medical treatment; since it’s completely anonymous, there’s no way to ensure people take these crucial next steps. OraQuick does have an anonymous 24-7-365 toll-free phone line with live assistance and comprehensive referral services to help address these issues

Photo Credit: OraSure Technologies, Inc.

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