Background: Several studies have compared the use of dried blot spot (DBS) as an alternative to plasma specimens, mainly using Whatman 903 cards as filter paper. The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of Whatman FTA card (FTA card) specimens for HIV-1 viral load testing compared to plasma specimens using two real-time PCR assays manufactured by Roche and Abbott.
Methodology: A cross-sectional study was conducted between April 2017 and September 2017 on HIV-1 patients admitted to Yalgado Ouédraogo Teaching Hospital. Paired FTA cards and plasma specimens were collected and analysed using the Abbott Real-Time HIV-1 assay (Abbott) and COBAS AmpliPrep/COBAS TaqMan v2.0 (Roche).
Results: In total, 107 patients were included. No statistical differences (P>0.05) were observed between the mean viral loads obtained from the FTA cards and those of the plasma specimens using the Roche and Abbott assays. In total, 29 samples with Roche and 15 samples with Abbott assay showed discrepant results. At viral loads of ≤1000 copies ml-1, the sensitivity and specificity of the FTA cards were 78.6 and 100% with Roche, and 92.3 and 95.9% with Abbott, respectively. Both the Roche and Abbott assays showed good correlation and agreement between the FTA cards and plasma values.
Conclusion: Our study demonstrates the feasibility of using FTA card filter paper for HIV-1 viral load testing. However, further studies will be required for the validation of the use of FTA card filter paper in HIV-1 treatment monitoring.
Keywords: Burkina Faso; HIV-1; Whatman FTA cards; dried blood spots; real-time PCR; viral load.
© 2020 The Authors.