A rapid test is a single-use device that produces test results in a short period of time, usually less than 30 minutes from the time of specimen collection. Some rapid anti-HIV assays that are currently available can be used with oral fluids, and/or urine specimens as well as whole blood or serum/plasma. However, alternative fluids lack the sensitivity of blood/plasma.
The advantages of rapid tests, particularly those that use specimen types other than blood, include:
- Greater flexibility in where testing can be performed; testing can occur at sites other than laboratories.
- Rapid turnaround time may lead to quicker treatment, if needed.