Long-term highly suppressed HIV-infected children and adolescents with negative rapid HIV tests due to significant antibody loss

Merchant, M.; Wright, M.; Kabat, W.; Yogev, R.

J Clin Virol. 2014 Jan 21; 59(3):172-6


BACKGROUND: Rapid HIV test devices are widely used throughout the world and are important as diagnostic tools with relatively high sensitivity and specificity. Loss of HIV specific antibodies in late-stage AIDS patients has previously been reported in patients with advanced disease (i.e., AIDS). OBJECTIVE: To study rate of antibody loss that may lead to false negative HIV-antibodies results in children and adolescents who received long term antiretroviral (ARV) treatment with persistently undetectable viral loads. STUDY DESIGN: Five FDA approved rapid HIV test kits including Trinity Uni-Gold Recombigen HIV-1, OraQuick Advance HIV-1/2, Reveal G3 HIV-1, Clearview STAT-PAK HIV-1/2, and Clearview COMPLETE HIV-1/2 were used to test 98 stored samples from 27 patients. Samples were tested at baseline and at least twice in 6-14 years post initiation of ARV treatment and full viral load suppression. RESULTS: Of the 403 tests, 43 (10.7%) were found to be false-negative using rapid HIV kits. Loss of positivity was correlated with decrease of HIV antibody titer. CONCLUSIONS: There is a slow but persistent loss of HIV specific antibodies in highly suppressed HIV infected children and adolescents that may lead to false-negative results in rapid HIV antibody tests. The temporal loss of signal is dependent on the baseline level of antibodies and the type of HIV rapid test kit used.

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