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AIDS. 1997 Dec;11(15):1815-22.

Field evaluation of alternative testing strategies for diagnosis and differentiation of HIV-1 and HIV-2 infections in an HIV-1 and HIV-2-prevalent area.

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  • 1Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Stockholm, Sweden.



To identify cost-efficient alternative antibody testing strategies for screening, confirmation and discrimination of HIV-1 and HIV-2 infections, including rapid simple tests (RST) as well as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), in a HIV-1 and HIV-2-prevalent area.


Evaluation and comparison of anti-HIV-1/2 assays, adhering to the World Health Organization recommendations for alternative confirmatory strategies, using banked and prospectively collected specimens in Guinea-Bissau.


A total of 1110 consecutive sera from Bissau were included in the first phase, of which 198 (17.8%) were HIV-seropositive: 52 (4.7%) HIV-1, 120 (10.8%) HIV-2, and 26 (2.3%) HIV-1/HIV-2 dually reactive. In addition, 95 selected HIV-positive specimens were included for study of sensitivity and cross-reactivity between HIV-1 and HIV-2. Western blot was used as a gold standard for confirming the reactivity of the specimens. All specimens were screened by two assays. Enzygnost ELISA and Capillus RST. Samples reactive by any of the screening assays were further tested by assays chosen for confirmation: UBI ELISA, Innotest ELISA Recombigen RST, Multispot RST and Immunocomb RST. The confirmatory RST as well as Wellcozyme Recombinant HIV-1 ELISA, PEPTI-LAV and INNO-LIA were also used to study differentiation between HIV-1 and HIV-2.


The sensitivities of all assays were 100%. The specificities of the screening assays at initial and repeated testing were 98.0 and 99.7%, respectively, for Enzygnost and 99.8 and 99.9%, respectively, for Capillus. The various combinations of two or three assays showed specificities of 99.2-100%. Several possible combinations of assays were identified where a specificity of 100% and good differentiation between HIV-1 and HIV-2 was achieved. Significant differences in the capacity to discriminate were noted; Immunocomb and PEPTI-LAV had the lowest number of dual-reactive results. A follow-up study of 1501 consecutive samples tested with the strategy chosen for routine use showed a sensitivity and specificity comparable to ELISA and Western blot.


High sensitivities and specificities were obtained with various combinations of assays including RST as well as ELISA, and these procedures are well suited for field use in Africa. Serodiagnostic strategies for HIV can be based on RST alone and differentiation between HIV-1 and HIV-2 can be achieved as part of these strategies. Large differences in the capacity of individual assays to discriminate between HIV-1 and HIV-2 were observed.

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