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Data Suggests New Antigen-Antibody Combo Test Useful for High Volume Public Health Screening
Date:2/9/2009

MONTREAL, Feb. 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- A new HIV antigen-antibody combination assay, currently available in Europe, can be useful for high- volume screening to identify individuals with acute HIV infection, who would be missed by traditional HIV antibody tests, according to research presented by Johns Hopkins University, Abbott (NYSE: ABT) and others at the 16th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI).

"Those with recent HIV infections who have not yet developed an HIV antibody response are a major driver of the global HIV epidemic," said John Hackett, Ph.D., from the Global HIV Surveillance Program at Abbott. "The current method for detection of acute infections is expensive and labor- intensive pooled nucleic acid testing (NAAT). The combination assay represents a reliable and cost-effective alternative with important benefits for HIV prevention strategies."

Acute HIV infection, the early phase of infection when symptoms begin to emerge, cannot be detected by most routinely used serological HIV tests. Conventional HIV tests detect HIV-specific antibodies in blood or oral fluids that are produced by the immune system during seroconversion or the development of detectable antibodies, which occurs approximately 22 to 25 days after initial infection. Therefore, a person infected very recently may receive an HIV-negative result using conventional HIV tests.

Testing for the antigen reduces the "window period" in which an individual may have been exposed to HIV and have a reactive test result. This means that individuals exposed to HIV may test reactive for the antigen, but may not test reactive to the antibody.

Johns Hopkins and Abbott Study Results

In the study by Johns Hopkins
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SOURCE Abbott
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