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N Engl J Med. 1993 Feb 4;328(5):297-302.

Rapid serologic testing with immune-complex-dissociated HIV p24 antigen for early detection of HIV infection in neonates. Southern California Pediatric AIDS Consortium.

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Center for AIDS Research and Education, University of California, Los Angeles 90024-1793.



Serologic detection of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in neonates is complicated by the presence of immune complexes, consisting of passively transferred maternal antibodies and HIV antigens. A new, rapid assay has been designed to disrupt these immune complexes in order to permit the detection of a specific HIV antigen. We evaluated the efficacy of this assay in detecting HIV infection in neonates.


We measured p24 antigen in blood samples from both infected and uninfected children of HIV-infected mothers. The samples were treated with glycine hydrochloride to dissociate the immune complexes, followed by neutralization with TRIS-hydrochloric acid. A commercial HIV p24 antigen assay was then used, with an optical density greater than 0.120 at a wavelength of 450 nm defined as indicating a positive result.


Of eight cord-blood samples from neonates with proved HIV infection, five were positive for immune-complex-dissociated p24 antigen. For two other neonates the first postnatal sample, obtained on days 12 and 18, was positive. There was no follow-up sample for the eighth neonate. Of 22 uninfected neonates, 20 were negative on the cord-blood assay. Two neonates had positive cord-blood samples, but the first postnatal sample was negative. Thus, the tests with early postnatal samples identified the HIV-infection status correctly for all 29 children who could be evaluated. In a separate group of 78 children (median age, 188 weeks), the specificity of the test was 100 percent and the sensitivity 81 percent.


The immune-complex-dissociated HIV p24 antigen assay is a rapid, simple serologic test that may be of value in diagnosing HIV infection in neonates born to HIV-infected women.

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