updated 12/30/2008 8:17:39 PM ET 2008-12-31T01:17:39

Federal regulators said Tuesday they have approved a new HIV test that screens for two, less common forms of the virus.

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The Food and Drug Administration said the TaqScreen MPX Test is the first to simultaneously detect HIV-2 and HIV-1 Group O strains. Both types of HIV are mainly found among patients in Africa, but the FDA said they have recently been detected in the U.S.

The test, which is made by a division of Swiss drugmaker Roche, also screens for the most common forms of HIV and hepatitis.

The MPX test is designed to screen for infectious diseases in human blood and tissue samples from donors.

"Blood donor testing laboratories will be able to use nucleic acid technology to screen for additional HIV strains, further assuring that donated blood and tissue are free from infection," FDA division chief Jesse Goodman said in a statement.

Other companies offering HIV tests include Abbott Laboratories and Gen-Probe Inc.

Roche Molecular Systems Inc. is based in Pleasanton, Calif.

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