Finger-stick whole blood HIV-1/-2 home-use tests are more sensitive than oral fluid-based in-home HIV tests

PLoS One. 2014 Jun 27;9(6):e101148. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0101148. eCollection 2014.


Background: Several countries have recently recommended the expansion of anti-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibody testing, including self-testing with rapid tests using oral fluid (OF). Several tests have been proposed for at-home use, but their diagnostic accuracy has not been fully evaluated.

Objective: To evaluate the performance of 5 rapid diagnostic tests for the detection of anti-HIV-1/2 antibodies, with 4 testing OF and 1 testing whole blood.

Methods: Prospective multi-center study in France. HIV-infected adults and HIV-uninfected controls were systematically screened with 5 at-home HIV tests using either OF or finger-stick blood (FSB) specimens. Four OF tests (OraQuick Advance Rapid HIV-1/2, Chembio DPP HIV 1/2 Assay, test A, and test B) and one FSB test (Chembio Sure Check HIV1/2 Assay) were performed by trained health workers and compared with laboratory tests.

Results: In total, 179 HIV-infected patients (M/F sex ratio: 1.3) and 60 controls were included. Among the HIV-infected patients, 67.6% had an undetectable HIV viral load in their plasma due to antiretroviral therapy. Overall, the sensitivities of the OF tests were 87.2%, 88.3%, 58.9%, and 28% (for OraQuick, DPP, test A, and test B, respectively) compared with 100% for the FSB test Sure Check (p<0.0001 for all comparisons). The OraQuick and DPP OF tests' sensitivities were significantly lower than that of the FSB-based Sure Check (p<0.05). The sensitivities of the OF tests increased among the patients with a detectable HIV viral load (>50 copies/mL), reaching 94.8%, 96.5%, 90%, and 53.1% (for OraQuick, DPP, test A, and test B, respectively). The specificities of the four OF tests were 98.3%, 100%, 100%, and 87.5%, respectively, compared with 100% for the FSB test.

Conclusion: An evaluation of candidates for HIV self-testing revealed unexpected differences in performance of the rapid tests: the FSB test showed a far greater reliability than OF tests.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Serodiagnosis / methods*
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Fingers / blood supply*
  • HIV Antibodies / blood
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV-1 / immunology
  • HIV-2 / immunology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic*
  • Saliva / virology*
  • Self Administration*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • HIV Antibodies
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic

Grant support

This study was funded internally from the Centre Hospitalier Régional d'Orléans. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.