Updated 15 January 2015

New test can identify both HIV and hepatitis

A new test that can detect both HIV and hepatitis viruses has been approved by US authorities.


US authorities have approved a test developed by Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche that can detect both HIV and hepatitis viruses, the company said Friday.

Eliminates consecutive rounds of testing

The Cobas Taqscreen MPX is the only test approved by the US Food and Drug Administration that can simultaneously detect the HIV, hepatitis B and C viruses in human blood and plasma, Roche said.

Having a single test eliminates "the need for consecutive rounds of testing" Roche said, stressing that it could shorten the time it takes to reach a crucial diagnosis of the killer viruses.

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which causes Aids, has killed some 39 million people since it emerged in the 1980s.

Hepatitis B and C, which are transmitted from infected mothers to newborn babies by unsafe injections during medical procedures and drug use, or unsafe sex, kill more than a million people each year.

Roche is a leader in the global blood and plasma screening market using so-called nucleic acid-based techniques, which allow earlier detection of virus or bacteria infections in antibody tests.

That market is worth an estimated 660 million euros ($779 million) worldwide.

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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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