New recommendations for laboratory diagnosis of HIV infection in the United States were published in 2014. The updated testing algorithm includes a qualitative HIV-1 RNA assay to resolve discordant immunoassay results and to identify acute HIV-1 infection (AHI). The qualitative HIV-1 RNA assay is not widely available; therefore, we evaluated the performance of a more widely available quantitative HIV-1 RNA assay, viral load, for diagnosing AHI. We determined that quantitative viral loads consistently distinguished AHI from a false-positive immunoassay result. Among 100 study participants with AHI and a viral load result, the estimated geometric mean viral load was 1,377,793copies/mL.
Keywords: Acute HIV infection; Fourth-generation immunoassay; HIV diagnosis; HIV testing; Quantitative HIV-1 viral load.
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