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Transfusion. 1992 Jul-Aug;32(6):503-8.

Resolution of infection status of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-seroindeterminate donors and high-risk seronegative individuals with polymerase chain reaction and virus culture: absence of persistent silent HIV type 1 infection in a high-prevalence area.

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  • 1Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of California, San Francisco.


To address concerns over the prevalence of silent (antibody-negative) infections among blood donors and high-risk populations, a combination of proviral amplification by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and viral isolation by co-culture techniques was employed to resolve the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection status of well-characterized groups of suspect blood donors and others identified in the blood bank setting. No silent infections were found in 65 follow-up samples from 26 persistently HIV-1-seroindeterminate blood donors, 16 persistently seronegative heterosexual partners of infected transfusion recipients, and 6 high-risk seronegative homosexual men identified through donor look-back investigations. In contrast, 21 seropositive controls tested positive. These results suggest a low prevalence of persistently silent infections in at-risk populations, even in high HIV prevalence regions. The PCR assay, with a co-detected internal positive control, and appropriate confirmatory algorithms, was found to be a useful direct assay to rule out infection, especially in concert with confirmatory virus isolation.

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