HPTN Bibliographic Record

Janssen RS, Satten GA, Stramer SL, Rawal BD, O'Brien TR, Weiblen BJ, Hecht FM, Jack N, Cleghorn FR, Kahn JO, Chesney MA, Busch MP. New testing strategy to detect early HIV-1 infection for use in incidence estimates and for clinical and prevention purposes. JAMA. 1998, 280: 42-48.
CONTEXT: Differentiating individuals with early human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) infection from those infected for longer periods is difficult but important for estimating HIV incidence and for purposes of clinical care and prevention. OBJECTIVE: To develop and validate a serologic testing algorithm in which HIV-1-positive persons with reactive test results on a sensitive HIV-1 enzyme immunoassay (EIA) but nonreactive results on a less sensitive (LS) EIA are identified as having early infection. DESIGN: Diagnostic test and testing strategy development, validation, and application. Specimens were tested with both a sensitive HIV-1 EIA (3A11 assay) and a less sensitive modification of the same EIA (3A11-LS assay). SETTINGS AND PARTICIPANTS: For assay development: 104 persons seroconverting to HIV-1 comprising 38 plasma donors, 18 patients of a sexually transmitted disease clinic in Trinidad, and 48 participants in the San Francisco Men's Health Study (SFMHS); 268 men without the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in the SFMHS who had been infected for at least 2.5 years; and 207 persons with clinical AIDS; for testing strategy validation: 488 men in the SFMHS from 1985 through 1990 and 1275449 repeat blood donors at 3 American Red Cross blood centers from 1993 through 1995; and for HIV-1 incidence estimates: 2717910 first-time blood donors. We retrospectively identified persons eligible for a study of early infection. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Ability to identify early HIV infection. RESULTS: Estimated mean time from being 3A11 reactive/3A11-LS nonreactive to being 3A11 reactive/3A11-LS reactive was 129 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 109-149 days) [corrected]. Our testing strategy accurately diagnosed 95% of persons with early infection; however, 0.4% (1/268) of men with established infection and 2% (5/207) of persons with late-stage AIDS were misdiagnosed as having early HIV-1 infection. Average yearly incidence estimates in SFMHS subjects were 1.5% per year vs observed average incidence of 1.4 per 100 person-years. Incidence in repeat blood donors using the sensitive/less sensitive assay testing strategy was 2.95 per 100000 per year (95% CI, 1.14-6.53/100000) vs observed incidence of 2.60 per 100000 person-years (95% CI, 1.49-4.21/100000). Overall incidence in first-time blood donors was 7.18 per 100000 per year (95% CI, 4.51-11.20/100000) and did not change statistically significantly between 1993 and 1996. Use of the sensitive/less sensitive testing strategy alone would have identified all 17 persons with antibodies to HIV-1 eligible for a study of early HIV-1 infection and would have increased enrollment. CONCLUSIONS: The sensitive/less sensitive testing strategy provides accurate diagnosis of early HIV-1 infection, provides accurate estimates of HIV-1 incidence, can facilitate clinical studies of early HIV-1 infection, and provides information on HIV-1 infection duration for care planning.