Dried blood spots in HIV monitoring: applications in resource-limited settings

Bioanalysis. 2010 Nov;2(11):1893-908. doi: 10.4155/bio.10.120.


By the end of 2008, 4 million people were receiving antiretroviral treatment for HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income countries. In industrialized countries, monitoring of treatment with viral load measurements and drug resistance testing is the standard of care to ensure early detection of treatment failure and a prompt switch to a fully active second-line regimen, before drug-resistant mutations accumulate. These tests, however, require highly specialized laboratories and stringent procedures for storage and shipment of plasma, and are rarely available in resource-limited settings. Therefore, treatment failure in such settings is usually not detected until patients develop severe immunodeficiency, at which stage widespread resistance is likely. Dried blood spots (DBS) are easy to collect and store, and can be a convenient alternative to plasma in settings with limited laboratory capacity. This review provides an overview of possible applications of DBS technologies in the monitoring of HIV treatment, with the main focus on viral load quantification and drug resistance testing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / methods*
  • Blood Specimen Collection / methods*
  • Desiccation
  • Drug Monitoring / methods
  • HIV / drug effects*
  • HIV / genetics
  • HIV / isolation & purification*
  • HIV / physiology
  • HIV Infections / blood
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • Health Resources*
  • Humans
  • Viral Load / drug effects


  • Anti-HIV Agents