New HIV Test 25 Times More Sensitive Than Current Tests, Study Says
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).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.