Laboratory Testing for Infection With the Human Immunodeficiency Virus: Established and Novel Approaches

Am J Med. 2000 Nov;109(7):568-76. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9343(00)00583-0.


The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and the Western blot are the primary tests for the diagnosis and confirmation of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. The ELISA, an inexpensive screening test for antibodies to HIV-1, is both sensitive and specific. The HIV-1 Western blot is a reliable confirmatory test following a repeatedly reactive ELISA. False-positive HIV-1 results with this sequence of tests are extremely rare but can occur, and test results that are inconsistent with clinical or other laboratory information should be questioned, repeated, or supplemented. The US Food and Drug Administration has also approved rapid and more accessible testing methods. Oral mucosal transudate and urine testing are noninvasive testing methods; rapid and home sample collection kits offer easier access to testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western*
  • Body Fluids / virology*
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay*
  • False Positive Reactions
  • HIV / isolation & purification*
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV Infections / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity