US HEALTH regulators said they have approved OraSure Technologies Inc's in-home test for HIV, making it the first over-the-counter, self-administered test for the virus that causes AIDS.
The Food and Drug Administration gave its green light to the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, which within 20 to 40 minutes provides results from an oral fluid sample taken by swabbing the upper and lower gums inside the mouth.
Shares of the company, which were halted pending the FDA announcement, shot up 5.2 percent in afternoon trading to $12.10.
The company said the test -- already approved for use by trained technicians -- will be available starting in October at more than 30,000 retailers and online. The price will be set closer to the launch date, it said.
The FDA cautioned that a positive result does not mean an individual is definitely infected with HIV, but rather that additional testing should be done in a medical setting to confirm the result.
About 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, but one in five are not aware of it, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 50,000 new people are infected with HIV each year, often from people who may not know they have the virus, the FDA said.
"Knowing your status is an important factor in the effort to prevent the spread of HIV," said Dr. Karen Midthun, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. "The availability of a home-use HIV test kit provides another option for individuals to get tested so that they can seek medical care, if appropriate."
An FDA advisory committee of outside experts voted unanimously in favor of the test in May, saying its ability to prevent new HIV infections and link people to medical care and social services outweighed the risk of false results.
Clinical trials for the test showed it was accurate 92 percent of the time in diagnosing people who had HIV -- meaning one out of every 12 test results would be a false negative.
False negatives are of particular concern because they could lead HIV-positive individuals to take fewer precautions, raising the danger that they will engage in unprotected sex.
The test accurately gave a negative result for those without HIV in 99.98 percent of cases, meaning there would be only one false positive result out of every 5,000 tests.
"We set out with a clear purpose - to dramatically impact the number of people getting tested for HIV nationwide," Douglas Michels, OraSure's chief executive, said in a statement.
"Today's FDA approval of OraQuick brings us much closer to accomplishing that goal."