HIV Diagnostics: Challenges and Opportunities

Eric Y Wong amp; Indira K Hewlett


HIV Ther. 2010;4(4):399-412. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Accurate HIV diagnostic testing continues to pose challenges, but there are also opportunities for assay performance improvements in key areas for specific intended-use settings. The genetic diversity of HIV can result in false and discordant results in assays that fail to detect new variant strains. The use of antiretroviral therapies has resulted in drug-resistant variants that require monitoring by sequencing and genotyping methods. Nucleic acid testing is the most sensitive and reliable platform for detection, but it is costly and limited to centralized testing facilities, making implementation difficult in resource-limited settings where HIV has hit the hardest. Rapid antibody tests suitable for point-of-care use are becoming more accessible in resource-limited settings, but these tests may not detect HIV during the acute infection stage. Emerging antigen/antibody combination assays are viable alternatives to nucleic acid testing for diagnosis of recent infections. Although patient monitoring (e.g., via CD4+ T-cell count and viral load determination) and infant diagnoses still rely on clinical laboratory-based testing, point-of-care options are being developed. There are other technical challenges to HIV diagnostic testing and emerging biodetection technologies that may be able to address them, but they are not yet proven.


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