Carilion extending deadline to complete PERK kit

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - New technology and new guidelines are giving sexual assault survivors more time to report their attacks.

A physical evidence exam using a PERK kit takes several hours and some describe it as intrusive.

Teresa Berry is the executive director of the Sexual Assault Response and Awareness group in Roanoke and has helped many victims through the process.

"You're there for someone on one of the darkest days of their lives," says Berry.

Starting Monday, Carilion is extending the window it can collect rape kits from 72 hours to 120 hours.

"I think it gives them more time to think about what they want to do, gather their thoughts," says Melissa Harper, a forensic nurse examiner at Carilion.

Other states like Massachusetts have already started accepting kits after up to five days.

The Department of Forensic Science gave Carilion permission to accept kits two days later while other hospitals in Virginia will be required to do it starting in July.

Harper says one reason behind the change is technology.

"This technology with DNA how it's developed it can literally be as small as a pinhead drop and they can pick DNA up," says Harper.

Agencies throughout the state are also preparing for other changes involving PERK kits.

Starting in July, kits from people who don't report assaults will be kept for a minimum of two years instead of 120 days.