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Health Experts Look at Better HIV Test

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Health officials who deal with organ transplants are talking seriously about improving HIV testing for donors. That’s after four people in the Chicago-area were infected with HIV after receiving transplants.

The problem with today’s standard HIV test is its 22-day window. If a person is infected in that period of time before the test, it will still come up negative. Dr. James Burdick is with the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and heads the transplant division. He says it’s working towards stronger testing, but that has to be balanced with patients’ needs.

BURDICK: With over six-thousand people dying each year in this country without being able to receive a transplant because of the organ shortage, we don’t want to do anything that would interfere with the obvious life-saving potential of each organ that becomes available.

There is a newer test that can detect more recent HIV infections, but it takes longer for results. Officials at federal and local agencies say the recent incident has prompted a discussion about making this new test more practical.

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