Background: Fourth generation assays detect simultaneously antibodies for HIV and the p24 antigen, identifying HIV infection earlier than previous generation tests. Previous studies have shown that the Alere Determine HIV-1/2 Combo has lower than anticipated performance in detecting antibodies for HIV and the p24 antigen. Furthermore, there are currently very few studies evaluating the performance of Standard Diagnostics BIOLINE HIV Ag/Ab Combo.
Objective: To evaluate the performance of the Alere Determine HIV-1/2 Combo and the Standard Diagnostics BIOLINE HIV Ag/Ab Combo in a panel of frozen serum samples.
Study design: The testing panel included 133 previously frozen serum specimens from the UCLA Clinical Microbiology & Immunoserology laboratory. Reference testing included testing for HIV antibodies by a 3rd generation enzyme immunoassay followed by HIV RNA detection. Antibody negative and RNA positive sera were also tested by a laboratory 4th generation HIV Ab/Ag enzyme immunoassay.
Results: Reference testing yielded 97 positives for HIV infection and 36 negative samples. Sensitivity of the Alere test was 95% (88-98%), while the SD Bioline sensitivity was 91% (83-96%). Both assays showed 100% (90-100%) specificity. No indeterminate or invalid results were recorded. Among 13 samples with acute infection (HIV RNA positive, HIV antibody negative), 12 were found positive by the first assay and 8 by the second. The antigen component of the Alere assay detected 10 acute samples, while the SD Bioline assay detected only one.
Conclusions: Both rapid assays showed very good overall performance in detecting HIV infection in frozen serum samples, but further improvements are required to improve the performance in acute infection.