Longosz AF, Mehta S, Kirk GD, Margolick JB, Brown J, Quinn TC, Eshleman SH, Laeyendecker O. Incorrect identification of recent HIV infection in adults in the United States using a limiting-antigen avidity assay. AIDS. 2014, 28: 1227-32. PMC4102639
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate factors associated with misclassification by the limiting-antigen avidity (Lag-avidity) assay among individuals with long-standing HIV infection. DESIGN: Samples were obtained from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study and AIDS Linked to the IntraVenous Experience cohort (1089 samples from 667 individuals, 595 samples collected 2-4 years and 494 samples collected 4-8 years after HIV seroconversion). Paired samples from both time points were available for 422 (63.3%) of the 667 individuals. METHODS: Samples were considered to be misclassified if the Lag-avidity assay result was 1.5 or less normalized optical density (OD-n) units. RESULTS: Overall, 4.8% (52/1089) of the samples were misclassified, including 1.8% [16/884, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.09-3.06%] of samples from individuals with viral loads above 400 copies/ml and 1.4% (10/705) of samples from individuals with viral loads above 400 copies/ml and CD4 cell counts above 200 cells/μl (95% CI 0.68-2.60%). Age, race, sex, and mode of HIV acquisition were not associated with misclassification. In an adjusted analysis, viral load below 400 copies/ml [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 3.72, 95% CI 1.61-8.57], CD4 cell count below 50 cells/μl (aOR 5.41, 95% CI 1.86-15.74), and low Lag-avidity result (≤1.5 OD-n) from the earlier time point (aOR 5.60, 95% CI 1.55-20.25) were significantly associated with misclassification. CONCLUSIONS: The manufacturer of the Lag-avidity assay recommends excluding individuals from incidence surveys who are receiving antiretroviral therapy, are elite suppressors, or have AIDS (CD4 cell count <200 cells/μl). The results of this study indicate that those exclusions do not remove all sources of assay misclassification among individuals with long-standing HIV infection.