Relative accuracy of serum, whole blood, and oral fluid HIV tests among Seattle men who have sex with men

J Clin Virol. 2013 Dec;58 Suppl 1(0 1):e119-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2013.09.018.


Background: Point-of-care (POC) rapid HIV tests have sensitivity during the "window period" comparable only to earliest generation EIAs. To date, it is unclear whether any POC test performs significantly better than others.

Objective: Compare abilities of POC tests to detect early infection in real time.

Study design: Men who have sex with men (MSM) were recruited into a prospective, cross-sectional study at two HIV testing sites and a research clinic. Procedures compared four POC tests: one performed on oral fluids and three on fingerstick whole blood specimens. Specimens from participants with negative POC results were tested by EIA and pooled nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT). McNemar's exact tests compared numbers of HIV-infected participants detected.

Results: Between February 2010 and May 2013, 104 men tested HIV-positive during 2479 visits. Eighty-two participants had concordant reactive POC results, 3 participants had concordant non-reactive POC tests but reactive EIAs, and 8 participants had acute infection. Of 12 participants with discordant POC results, OraQuick ADVANCE Rapid HIV-1/2 Antibody Test performed on oral fluids identified fewer infections than OraQuick performed on fingerstick (p = .005), Uni-Gold Recombigen HIV test (p = .01), and determine HIV-1/2 Ag/Ab combo (p = .005).

Conclusions: These data confirm that oral fluid POC testing detects fewer infections than other methods and is best reserved for circumstances precluding fingerstick or venipuncture. Regardless of specimen type, POC tests failed to identify many HIV-infected MSM in Seattle. In populations with high HIV incidence, the currently approved POC antibody tests are inadequate unless supplemented with p24 antigen tests or NAAT.

Keywords: HIV testing; Oral fluids; Rapid HIV test.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Blood / immunology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / methods*
  • Female
  • HIV Antibodies / analysis*
  • HIV Antibodies / blood*
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Homosexuality, Male
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Point-of-Care Systems
  • Prospective Studies
  • Saliva / immunology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Serologic Tests / methods
  • Washington


  • HIV Antibodies