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New HIV Test 25 Times More Sensitive Than Current Tests, Study Says

June 15, 2004

This article is part of The Body PRO's archive. Because it contains information that may no longer be accurate, this article should only be considered a historical document.

A new HIV test that identifies "tiny amounts" of p24 protein inside HIV is 25 times more sensitive than current HIV tests, according to a study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Real-Time Immuno-PCR test combines parts of traditional antibody testing with polymerase chain reaction, which "amplifies" small amounts of the virus. Currently, most viral load tests can identify 50 copies of HIV; however, the new test can detect the virus when only two copies of HIV are present, according to study co-authors Janet Barletta and Daniel Edelman of the University of Maryland School of Medicine Institute of Human Virology, the Journal reports. Study co-author Niel Constantine said he hopes that the technology used in the new test produces results faster than current tests, which can detect HIV in blood 12 days after a person has been exposed to the virus, according to the Journal. The test still must undergo long-term studies to gain FDA approval, the Journal reports. Constantine said that his research group also is developing a "simpler, cheaper system" to monitor HIV-positive people in the developing world who are on antiretroviral therapy, according to the Journal. He said that the portable HIV monitor -- which is being developed with a $200,000 grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation through a partnership with Norway-based Bionor -- is battery-operated and could be used in settings "without reliable power or sophisticated labs," the Journal reports (Chase, Wall Street Journal, 6/15).

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