p24 revisited: a landscape review of antigen detection for early HIV diagnosis

AIDS. 2018 Sep 24;32(15):2089-2102. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000001982.


: Despite major advances in HIV testing, early detection of infection at the point of care (PoC) remains a key challenge. Although rapid antibody PoC and laboratory-based nucleic acid amplification tests dominate the diagnostics market, the viral capsid protein p24 is recognized as an alternative early virological biomarker of infection. However, the detection of ultra-low levels of p24 at the PoC has proven challenging. Here we review the landscape of p24 diagnostics to identify knowledge gaps and barriers and help shape future research agendas. Five hundred and seventy-four research articles to May 2018 that propose or evaluate diagnostic assays for p24 were identified and reviewed. We give a brief history of diagnostic development, and the utility of p24 as a biomarker in different populations such as infants, the newly infected, those on preexposure prophylaxis and self-testers. We review the performance of commercial p24 assays and consider elements such as immune complex disruption, resource-poor settings, prevalence, and assay antibodies. Emerging and ultrasensitive assays are reviewed and show a number of promising approaches but further translation has been limited. We summarize studies on the health economic benefits of using antigen testing. Finally, we speculate on the future uses of high-performance p24 assays, particularly, if available in self-test format.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / methods*
  • Early Diagnosis
  • HIV Core Protein p24 / blood*
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Point-of-Care Testing*


  • HIV Core Protein p24