The Food and Drug Administration approved the first urine test for the AIDS virus Tuesday.
Calypte Biomedical Corp. of Berkley, Calif., created the test, which detects antibodies to the HIV virus present in simple plastic-cup specimens of urine.
The urine test is safer, easier and more accessible than traditional blood HIV tests, because it doesn’t require needles or specially trained health-care providers to administer it, and because urine, unlike blood, poses no risk of infection, said Calypte President Jack Davis.
The urine test becomes Americans’ second painless alternative to standard HIV testing. Doctors already could offer an oral test that uses a cotton pad to scrape tissue from between the cheek and gum.
But urine testing is not as accurate as blood testing, and anyone who tests positive must then undergo standard blood testing to confirm whether he or she really has HIV, the FDA said.