A 30-minute pinprick test for HIV has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for marketing in Australia.
Announcing the approval of the test, Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said that it will lead to quicker treatment and will reduce the risk of sufferers passing on the virus, the Age reported.
The test, developed by medical diagnostics company Alere, requires only a finger prick of blood that is transferred to a test card. The card detects the presence of HIV antigen and antibodies in the blood sample. It will only be administered by health care professionals who are trained to interpret the results and are able to provide care and counselling services.
The test will be processed while the patient waits, whereas laboratory tests typically take over a week and can take as long as three months.
The test is a preliminary screen only and all positive results require confirmation by a laboratory test.
Plibersek said she hoped the test would encourage people at risk of HIV infection to be tested more regularly.
"Rapid testing is being used internationally to ensure that people newly infected with HIV can quickly access treatment. That means better health for the patient and a lower risk of passing on the virus," the paper quoted Plibersek as saying.
Rob Lake, the executive director of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations welcomed the approval of the test, which he said would increase the level of testing and enable earlier diagnosis.
"Making HIV testing simpler and more accessible for gay men, the most affected community in Australia, will help make the testing experience easier and encourage them to test more often," he said.