The World Health Organization (WHO) is urging countries to stop using the slow, less accurate western blot and line immunoassay methods of HIV testing.
The recommendation follows a rigorous analysis of the latest available evidence and a systematic review of current practice which was conducted by the WHO.
The review compared testing strategies that use western blot/line immunoassay with methods that use a combination of point-of-care rapid diagnostic tests and enzyme immunoassays. It found that the latter were faster, more accurate and less expensive overall.
However, the WHO says few countries have adopted the latest HIV testing strategies. Often this delay is related to factors such as legislative barriers or reticence about changes in procurement and laboratory equipment, it says.
WHO Europe is encouraging countries to join the European Testing Week initiative, which will run from 22 to 29 November this year. The focus of the campaign is to promote early testing for HIV and hepatitis, as well as raising awareness, and increasing access to testing services and appropriate follow-up.
Updated WHO HIV recommendations will be published on 1 December to mark World AIDS Day.