Real-world performance of the new US HIV testing algorithm in medical settings

J Clin Virol. 2017 Jun;91:73-78. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2017.04.003. Epub 2017 Apr 7.


Background: Our medical center laboratory recently adapted its 24/7, two-hourly testing program to use an ARCHITECT-Multispot-viral load (AR-MS-VL) algorithm in place of a previous rapid test-immunofluorescence (RT-IF) algorithm.

Objectives: We evaluated screening test performance, acute case detection, turnaround time and ability to resolve HIV status under the new algorithm.

Study design: We considered consecutive HIV tests from January to November 2015. AR-MS-VL results at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (ZSFG) were compared with RT-IF results at ZSFG and also with AR-MS-VL results in the recently completed CDC Screening Targeted Populations to Interrupt On-going Chains of HIV Transmission with Enhanced Partner Notification (STOP) Study for targeted testing of MSM at publicly funded testing sites in San Francisco.

Results: Among 21,985 HIV tests performed at ZSFG, 16,467 were tested by RT-IF and 5518 by AR-MS-VL. There were 321 HIV infections detected, of which 274 (84%) were known HIV+ cases, and 47 were newly identified HIV infections. Considering only patients of HIV-negative or -unknown status, prevalence was 0.22%. Under the AR-MS-VL algorithm, turnaround times for screening results and full algorithm results were 3 and 21h; status-unresolved cases were reduced (from 47% to 22%) compared with the RT-IF algorithm. The positive predictive value (PPV) of a new-positive AR screening test was low (0.44) at ZSFG, where no acute infections were detected. At STOP Study sites where HIV prevalence was higher and acute infection was more common, the AR PPV was higher (0.93). All 24 false-positive AR screening tests at ZSFG had a signal/cutoff (S/CO) ratio of <15 and all 88 true-positive tests had S/CO ratio >15. Of 62 acute infections in the STOP Study, 23 (37%) had an S/CO<15.

Discussion: An AR-MS-VL algorithm is feasible and can return rapid results in a large medical center. In this setting, reactive 4th generation assay tests that are negative for HIV antibodies are typically false-positive with low S/CO ratios.

Keywords: 4th-generation; ARCHITECT; Assay evaluation; Diagnostics; HIV.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Serodiagnosis*
  • Algorithms*
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / instrumentation
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / methods*
  • Female
  • HIV Antibodies / blood*
  • HIV Antibodies / isolation & purification
  • HIV Antigens / immunology
  • HIV Infections / blood
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques / methods
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Viral Load


  • HIV Antibodies
  • HIV Antigens