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J Virol Methods. 1996 Jul;60(2):161-70.

Quantitation of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 RNA in cell free seminal plasma: comparison of NASBA with Amplicor reverse transcription-PCR amplification and correlation with quantitative culture.

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Department of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599-7030, USA.


Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is transmitted by infected males in semen. However, the inoculum required for infection is unknown. The ability to collect such information will rely on the availability of reliable quantitative assays of HIV-1 in semen. We examined the comparative performance of NASBA and Amplicor Monitor RT-PCR in quantifying HIV-1 RNA in cell free seminal plasma from seropositive men and correlated the results obtained with viral titres measured by a seminal cell quantitative microculture (QMC) assay. Of samples analysed, 68% and 56% by both NASBA and RT-PCR contained measurable HIV-1 RNA, respectively. Amplification inhibition frequently affected RT-PCR but not NASBA. Excluding samples with complete RT-PCR inhibition, there was 90% qualitative concordance and a strong positive correlation (r = 0.86) of RNA levels measured by the two methods. Comparison of the concentration of HIV-1 RNA in seminal plasma samples, as measured by NASBA, with QMC viral titres indicated that RNA levels probably reflect the infectiousness of whole semen. NASBA is a reliable technique for quantitating HIV-1 RNA in seminal plasma and should become a valuable tool in the study of factors that influence the sexual transmission of HIV.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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