California: Cal State-Long Beach Gets Grant to Study Faster HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis C Tests

The National Institute on Drug Abuse recently awarded California State University-Long Beach a four-year, $1.7 million grant to study experimental rapid tests for HIV, hepatitis C, and syphilis. The project will assess the accuracy and acceptability of the tests among groups at high risk of HIV infection, data that could lead to their approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), school officials said.

The research project, which began Sept. 30, will focus on six rapid tests for HIV, syphilis, and/or hepatitis C. One is a combined HIV/hepatitis C test, which could be especially useful in curbing infections among injection drug users, said Dennis Fisher, director of the university's Center for Behavioral Research and Services.

"Traditional testing for infectious diseases requires clients to return for their test results one or two weeks after providing a sample," said Fisher. "But there are many people who don't return to get their results. We believe this project can have a significant impact on the future of screening for infectious diseases in the US."

Rapid tests for HIV infection already are in use; improved versions have been developed and submitted for FDA approval.