Determination of HIV status in african adults with discordant HIV rapid tests

Jessica M. Fogel, Estelle Piwowar-Manning, Kelsey Donohue, Vanessa Cummings, Mark A. Marzinke, William Clarke, Autumn Breaud, Agnès Fiamma, Deborah Donnell, Michal Kulich, Jessie K.K. Mbwambo, Linda Richter, Glenda Gray, Michael Sweat, Thomas J. Coates, Susan H. Eshleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: In resource-limited settings, HIV infection is often diagnosed using 2 rapid tests. If the results are discordant, a third tiebreaker test is often used to determine HIV status. This study characterized samples with discordant rapid tests and compared different testing strategies for determining HIV status in these cases. Methods: Samples were previously collected from 173 African adults in a population-based survey who had discordant rapid test results. Samples were classified as HIV positive or HIV negative using a rigorous testing algorithm that included two fourthgeneration tests, a discriminatory test, and 2 HIV RNA tests. Tie-breaker tests were evaluated, including rapid tests (1 performed in-country), a third-generation enzyme immunoassay, and two fourth-generation tests. Selected samples were further characterized using additional assays. Results: Twenty-nine samples (16.8%) were classified as HIV positive and 24 of those samples (82.8%) had undetectable HIV RNA. Antiretroviral drugs were detected in 1 sample. Sensitivity was 8.3%-43% for the rapid tests; 24.1% for the third-generation enzyme immunoassay; 95.8% and 96.6% for the fourth-generation tests. Specificity was lower for the fourth-generation tests than the other tests. Accuracy ranged from 79.5% to 91.3%. Conclusions: In this population-based survey, most HIV-infected adults with discordant rapid tests were virally suppressed without antiretroviral drugs. Use of individual assays as tie-breaker tests was not a reliable method for determining HIV status in these individuals. More extensive testing algorithms that use a fourth-generation screening test with a discriminatory test and HIV RNA test are preferable for determining HIV status in these cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-438
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015


  • Africa
  • Discordant
  • HIV
  • Rapid test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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