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Three salivettes used as part of the National Survey of HIV, England, 1992-1993

A national survey in the early 1990s tried to identify the number of intravenous drug users with HIV and hepatitis B. These three salivettes were used as part of it. They were issued by the South Sefton Community Drugs Team in Merseyside, England. The salivette was chewed until soggy and then sealed in the plastic container. It was then sent for analysis, to check for specific antibodies which are released by the body to fight HIV and hepatitis B. The survey also included an anonymous questionnaire recording the patient’s drug and sexual history. The results helped target resources into the worst affected areas. Hepatitis B is a disease that causes inflammation of the liver. A vaccine to prevent it was introduced in the 1980s. New drugs have also greatly improved the lives of many people with AIDS. However, currently there is no vaccine against the virus, or cure for the disease.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: salivette

A trademarked device for saliva sampling.

Glossary: HIV

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that weakens vital cells in the immune system, and leads to AIDS. There are two strands: HIV-1, which leads to immunity suppression; and HIV-2, which is not as potent and is only common in West Africa. HIV is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids.

Glossary: hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a virus spread through the contact of bodily fluids. It is one hundred times more infectious than HIV, and can lead to severe liver damage, but there is an effective vaccine available.