High false-positive rate of human immunodeficiency virus rapid serum screening in a predominantly hispanic prenatal population

J Perinatol. 2004 Dec;24(12):743-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.jp.7211184.


Objective: To identify the characteristics of the gravidas delivering at our birthing center that place them at risk for false-positive human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).

Study design: The medical records of all rapid HIV-ELISA-positive gravidas that delivered at our hospital between January 2000 and October 2001 were retrieved, and information was gathered regarding maternal demographics. The results of the Western blot tests were also retrieved and correlated to the ELISA results, across varying maternal characteristics. chi(2), Student's t-test and multivariate analysis were performed, as appropriate, using the SAS software; statistical significance was denoted by p<0.05.

Results: A total of 69 patients had a positive rapid HIV-ELISA out of 9,781 deliveries. Of those, 26 were confirmed as HIV infected by Western blot (overall HIV prevalence: 0.27%, ELISA-positive predictive value: 37.7%). The subgroup prevalence of HIV and positive predictive value of ELISA were 1.53 and 75% among Caucasians; 2.43 and 82.6% among African-Americans; and 0.05 and 9.8% among Hispanics, respectively (p<0.05 for the comparisons between Hispanics and non-Hispanics only). A history of multiple (> or =5 lifetime) sexual partners was elicited in the majority of HIV-infected patients.

Conclusions: The positive predictive value of rapid HIV-ELISA during pregnancy varies widely, depending on maternal race/ethnicity and sexual behavior. The routine disclosure of rapid intrapartum HIV serum screening results prior to Western blot confirmation should be avoided in very low-risk populations.

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Serodiagnosis*
  • Adult
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Gravidity
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV Infections / ethnology*
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / ethnology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment