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Avera McKennan First Lab in the Country to Run New HIV Test



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There is a new HIV test that can detect the virus weeks before any other.

Doctors at Avera McKennan Hospital are the firs tin the country to use the new testing method which they is 99.9 percent accurate.

The machine is state of the art technology, with cutting edge testing and it's only in South Dakota.
    
Normally HIV tests, detect antibodies for the virus, but it can take up to 2 months for the body to develop an antibody, which in some cases can be too late.

 This new test detects antigens, which is a protein formed by the virus and can be picked up by the test as soon as a person becomes infected. 

"From that point on, your doctor can start treatment so it reduces the number of virus particles and kills the virus as quickly as it possibly can,"

There are nearly 55,000 new cases of H-I-V diagnosed across the country each year. But even in a small and rural community,  The director of the lab says, there is no doubt a need for this type of testing. 

"You don't see as much HIV as you would in a city like new york or Miami where you have different lifestyles, different cultures, so in that sense, we are fortunate,but we see enough that it's really enough that we be able to offer this kind of testing to the community," said Leo Serrano of Avera McKennan Hospital.

The machine tests up to 50 samples for HIV everyday and results are back within 30 minutes which is very beneficial for patients in order to stop spreading the life threatening disease.

"Most of those cases are from when people do not know they have it, so they have unprotected sex and transmit it to another individual. By offering this test, and having people tested quickly and being able to detect the virus sooner, that can modify their behavior, and use protected sex," said Serrano.

For the Avera McKennan laboratory, the director says, it's an honor to have the new machine.  For the hospital's patients, it could be a life saver.

The new test equipment just arrived this week, but is already being put to use.  According to the South Dakota Department of Heatlh, as of December 2009, nearly 600 people were diagnosed with HIV in the state,
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