MEDFORD, NY - A new study from University of Colorado researchers has found that women, nonwhites and residents of the southern US tend to have poorer outcomes after being diagnosed with HIV. Writing in the February 15 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, a team led by Amie L. Meditz, MD, reports that members of those groups who were newly infected with HIV and followed for an average of four years experienced more serious HIV-related illnesses than others.
Focusing on more than 2,000 patients, the researchers found that the frequency of HIV-related illness in women was more than double that of men, with nonwhite women having the most negative outcomes. After eight years of infection, HIV-related events affected 64% of nonwhite women, compared to 21% of those in other combined race and sex groups. Meanwhile, eight years into their diagnosis, 78% of nonwhites and 37% of whites in the South had experienced one or more HIV/AIDS-related event, compared to 17% of nonwhites and 24% of whites in other areas. The researchers hypothesized that the disparities could be linked to the influence of socioeconomic factors, including “access to health care, health behaviors, lifestyle and environmental exposures.”
“These stark numbers reinforce the need for earlier testing and earlier detection of this deadly disease, which could counteract the effects of the socioeconomic factors identified by the authors,” says Lawrence Siebert, Chief Executive Officer of Chembio Diagnostics Inc., a Medford, NY-based company that develops, manufactures, markets and licenses point-of-care diagnostic tests. “The sooner one learns of one’s HIV status, the better the chances are of responding effectively. It is essential to make tests more easily available and easier to administer, along the lines of home pregnancy tests, in order to improve HIV-related morbidity and mortality in these populations.”
In pursuit of this goal, Chembio has created a patented, next-generation testing approach known as Dual Path Platform (DPP®) technology. The original focus for DPP® is rapid HIV testing, although it can be adapted to test for numerous infectious diseases. These tests are intended to significantly shorten the time to diagnosis and to lessen the costs of testing. If adopted by the American healthcare community on a sufficiently wide scale, the ultimate result could be an improvement in the percentage of Americans tested and capable of receiving appropriate forms of treatment.
DPP® technology was patented by Chembio in 2007. DPP® enables the development of assays that offer unique features and capabilities such as multiplexing and better control of challenging sample types, such as oral fluid. Tests created to date on DPP® include an oral fluid HIV 1/2 test, a point-of-care confirmatory test for HIV 1/2, and a combination screening and confirmation test for syphilis. Prototypes of an oral fluid test for hepatitis C and various strains of influenza have also been created. The oral fluid HIV test is being submitted for professional use approval this year; thereafter a separate submission for over the counter approval of this product is anticipated.
Technical innovations in the HIV testing arena, such as those being pursued by Chembio, hold the promise of giving all HIV-positive individuals regardless of sex, race and region the chance of a brighter future.
About Chembio Diagnostics
Chembio Diagnostics, Inc. develops, manufactures, licenses and markets proprietary rapid diagnostic tests in the growing $7 billion point-of-care testing market. Chembio’s two FDA PMA-approved, CLIA-waived, rapid HIV tests are marketed in the U.S. by Alere North America, Inc. (formerly Inverness Medical Innovations, Inc.) Chembio markets its HIV STAT-PAK® line of rapid HIV tests internationally to government and donor-funded programs directly and through distributors. Chembio has developed a patented point-of-care test platform technology, the Dual Path Platform (DPP®) technology, which has significant advantages over lateral-flow technologies. This technology is providing Chembio with a significant pipeline of business opportunities for the development and manufacture of new products based on DPP®. Headquartered in Medford, NY, with approximately 100 employees, Chembio is licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and is certified for the global market under the International Standards Organization (ISO) directive 13.485.