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Vox Sang. 2001;81(2):93-101.

Development of multiplexed nucleic acid testing for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 and hepatitis C virus.

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PCR Reference Unit, Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service, Summerhall Place, Edinburgh, UK.



In most Western countries, blood donations are routinely screened for hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or other nucleic acid tests. We describe the development of a multiplexed assay for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and HCV in an internally controlled PCR suitable for large-scale blood donor screening.


The HIV/HCV multiplexed PCR used primers from highly conserved regions in the long terminal repeat region. The National Institute for Biological Standards and Controls (NIBSC) International HIV-1 RNA standard, run control and HIV-1 subtype panel were used for assay evaluation.


The HIV-1 PCR showed a sensitivity of 24 IU/ml for HIV-1 RNA (a dilution where 95% of replicate reactions were positive), which was at least five times more sensitive than the Roche Monitor version 1.5 (using the ultrasensitive extraction protocol) and Organon NASBA assays. The assay was capable of detecting all subtypes of HIV-1 (A to H), as well as the more divergent group N and O variants. The sensitivity of the PCR was unaffected by multiplexing with HCV primers and by the presence of a bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV) internal control.


We have developed a highly sensitive multiplexed PCR for HIV-1 and HCV RNA screening that can be introduced into current PCR-based blood donor screening at minimal cost and without significant operational changes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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