Adding nucleic acid testing to HIV screening may help identify more people with HIV

Jun 14, 2010

Community-based HIV testing programs generally use only HIV antibody testing, but nucleic acid testing (NAT) can detect the presence of HIV earlier. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine studied more than 3,000 patients who sought HIV testing in community-based clinics in or near San Diego to examine the yield of testing with a rapid test plus NAT and to see whether patients would be willing to access their results by phone or computer.

Their study, published June 14 in the , showed that NAT testing increased the HIV detection yield by 23%, and that a large majority of study participants received their negative test results by automated phone or internet systems.

"While the findings may not be generalized to all populations and testing programs, we did find that NAT programs that include automated systems for result reporting can increase case yield, especially in settings that cater to those men having sex with men," said the study's first author Sheldon Morris, MD, MPH, assistant clinical professor at UC San Diego's Antiviral Research Center.

Despite decades of prevention efforts in the U.S., the incidence rate of HIV has remained stable. Because the earliest stages of HIV infection represent a period of maximum infectiousness, early and accurate detection is critical to control the HIV epidemic.

"Extending the use of NAT to routine HIV testing programs might help decrease the HIV incidence rate by identifying persons with acute infection that would otherwise be missed through routine screening," said Morris. "In addition, automated reporting of negative results may prove an acceptable and less resource intense alternative to face-to-face reporting."

The patients were first tested for HIV with a rapid saliva test. If the result was positive, a counselor informed the patient and blood was obtained for a standard . If the result was negative, blood was obtained for a NAT. Nearly one quarter of persons with identified cases of had positive results only by NAT testing. More than two-thirds of patients with negative NAT results retrieved them via computer or voicemail.

Explore further: Masking HIV target cells prevents viral transmission in animal model

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Testing times: Detecting HIV in resource-limited settings

Nov 29, 2007

Integrating HIV testing programmes into primary medical care can help achieve early diagnosis of HIV infection, even in relatively poor areas, research published in the online open access journal AIDS Research and Therapy ...

Rapid oral HIV test shows great promise

Apr 11, 2007

A convenient, easy to use, and rapid alternative to blood-based HIV testing may become the new standard for field testing according to a new MUHC study. The study shows that the oral fluid-based OraQuick HIV1/2 test is 100 ...

Brown researchers create first-ever HIV rapid test video

Dec 12, 2007

Researchers at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University have created the first educational video for patients to explain rapid tests for HIV, a relatively new tool in the fight against the AIDS epidemic.

Is HIV testing during labor feasible?

Feb 27, 2009

Cameroon is a sub-Saharan African country with high HIV rates yet many pregnant women do not know their HIV status. Research published in the open access journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth has shown that HIV testing during ...

Researchers urge integrating TB into HIV care

Jul 22, 2008

In resource-limited settings where tuberculosis is a major cause of mortality among HIV patients and where a multidrug-resistant TB epidemic is emerging, researchers are pressing for approaches to integrate TB prevention ...

Recommended for you

New study reveals why some people may be immune to HIV-1

Nov 20, 2014

Doctors have long been mystified as to why HIV-1 rapidly sickens some individuals, while in others the virus has difficulties gaining a foothold. Now, a study of genetic variation in HIV-1 and in the cells ...

Virus discovery could impact HIV drug research

Nov 20, 2014

A research team led by Portland State University (PSU) biology professor Ken Stedman has unlocked the structure of an unusual virus that lives in volcanic hot springs. The discovery could pave the way for better drugs to ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.