Novel HIV testing method shows promise

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Washington, July 22 (ANI): Scientists have come up with a novel technique that detects the HIV virus early and monitors its development without requiring refrigeration.

It is likely to make AIDS testing more accessible in developing world.

During the study, lead researcher John Crump and colleagues from Duke University examined Tanzanian infants born to HIV-infected parents and people with known HIV infections who needed monitoring of their viral loads.

Viral load is a measurement used to diagnose HIV infection or determine the severity of HIV infection.

They compared viral load measurements by using the current standard of frozen plasma and the alternative method of dried blood spots (DBS).

The study showed a strong correlation between viral load values in plasma and DBS, making the two testing approaches comparable.

Dr. John Bartlett, Duke Global Health Institute Associate Director for Research said that this finding could lay the foundation for a new way of testing for and monitoring patients with HIV in the future.

"Dried blood spots offer the advantage of not requiring cold storage," said Bartlett, who also points out that this method may result in lower total health care costs.

"Before using it for care and treatment programs, it will need further evaluation. But, this is the largest field study of DBS's done to date, and the results appear promising," he added.

The sooner infants are diagnosed with HIV, the sooner they can receive life-prolonging medications to treat the disease. The infection cannot be detected in newborns using the typical HIV antibody test, and must be detected with other techniques, including viral load testing.

The researchers suggest that viral load testing is also the optimal way for monitoring HIV infection in patients with known infections, especially for those receiving treatment. (ANI)

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