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Curr HIV Res. 2005 Oct;3(4):371-6.

Alternative approach to blood screening using the ExaVir reverse transcriptase activity assay.

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Ethio-Netherlands AIDS Research Project (ENARP), Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute (EHNRI), Addis Ababa.


408 non-selected samples were obtained from healthy, adult individuals donating blood at the Ethiopian Red Cross Society-National Blood Transfusion Service. All samples were screened for HIV using the Vironostika Ag/Ab test, the Amplicor DNA PCR and examined for the presence of HIV reverse transcriptase (RT) using the ExaVir Load test (version 2). A panel of supplementary tests was used to evaluate the HIV status of the discordant samples and to confirm positivity. One aim was to assess an RT based test for screening for HIV in comparison with other more conventional tests. An HIV-prevalence of 3.4 % (14/408) was found. The Vironostika Ag/Ab test produced 391 negative, and according to the supplementary testing, 14 true- and three false- positive test results. The corresponding figures for the Amplicor DNA PCR test was 384 negative, 14 true- and two extra probably false -positive samples. In addition, the DNA PCR generated eight indeterminate results. The colorimetric version of the ExaVir load test exhibited 100 % specificity and detected RT in 13 of the true positive samples, but failed to detect one sample containing 200 HIV RNA copies /mL. This sample was detectable in the fluorimetric version of the test. The detection of RT activity in addition to the currently used markers would seem to have a potential for use in blood screening.

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