The implementation of rapid HIV testing in Brazil began in 2006 for specific groups, and from 2009 was extended to the Counseling and Testing Centers (CTC) in certain Brazilian capitals. The aim of this study was to compare two groups of individuals: those diagnosed with HIV infection by conventional testing and those diagnosed with rapid testing, with respect to: the waiting time before receiving medical care, the time of the first laboratory tests and the virological, immune and clinical status. This is a cross-sectional study to compare a group with individuals diagnosed by conventional testing (2006-2008) and another with those diagnosed by rapid testing (2010-2011).The median time between blood collection and diagnosis of HIV in the conventional test group was 76 days, while in the rapid test group 94.2% of the subjects received their results on the same day of blood collection (p < 0.001). In the conventional test group, the median period of time before the first consultation with an infectious disease specialist was 99 days, and for the rapid test group the time was 14 days (p < 0.001). The median time between the first blood sample and the first results of the CD4 count and viral load was approximately 2.5 times lower in the rapid test group (p < 0.001 for both). The median CD4 count in the rapid test group (472) was higher than in the conventional test group (397) (p = 0.01). The introduction of rapid HIV testing as a diagnostic strategy has reduced the waiting times for medical care and laboratory tests and also allowed earlier diagnosis of HIV infection than with the conventional test.
Keywords: HIV diagnosis; HIV testing; HIV/AIDS; conventional testing; rapid testing.