Background: Early and accurate detection of HIV is crucial when using pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention to avoid PrEP initiation in acutely infected individuals and to minimize the risk of drug resistance in individuals with breakthrough infection.
Objective: To determine if fourth-generation antigen/antibody (Ag/Ab) rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) would have detected HIV infection earlier than the third-generation RDT used in MTN-003 (VOICE).
Study design: 5029 VOICE participants were evaluated with third-generation Alere Determine™ HIV-1/2, OraQuick ADVANCE® Rapid HIV-1/2, Uni-Gold™ Recombigen® HIV-1/2 and Bio-Rad GS HIV-1/2+O EIA; and fourth-generation Alere Determine™ HIV-1/2 Ag/Ab Combo, Conformité Européene (CE)-Marked Alere™ HIV Combo and Bio-Rad HIV Combo Ag/Ab EIA. Multispot®, GS HIV-1 Western Blot (WB) and Geenius™ (Bio-Rad) were also evaluated.
Results: Of 57 antibody-negative pre-seroconversion plasma samples with HIV RNA >20 copies/mL identified, 16 (28%) were reactive by CE-Marked Alere™ HIV Combo (1 Ab; 9 Ag; 6 Ag/Ab reactive) and 4 (7%) by Alere Determine™ HIV-1/2 Ag/Ab Combo (2 Ab; 2 Ag; 0 Ag/Ab reactive) (p=0.0005). Multispot® confirmed only 1 of 16 acute infections while WB and Geenius™ confirmed none. GS HIV Combo Ag/Ab EIA identified 27 of 57 (47%) pre-seroconversion RNA-positive samples.
Conclusion: In VOICE, 28% of infections missed by current third-generation RDT would have been identified with the use of CE-Marked Alere™ HIV Combo. Geenius™, Multispot® and WB were all insensitive (<10%) in confirming infections detected by fourth-generation assays. An improved diagnostic algorithm that includes a fourth-generation RDT with HIV RNA testing will be essential for efficiently identifying seroconverters on PrEP.
Keywords: 4th generation rapid test; Acute infection; HIV confirmatory test; HIV diagnostics; HIV-1; Pre-exposure prophylaxis.
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