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Keywords:

  • Antiretroviral therapy;
  • dried blood spot;
  • human immunodeficiency virus;
  • monitoring;
  • viral load assay

Abstract

The Abbott Real-Time HIV-1 assay was evaluated for its performance in quantification of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) RNA in dried blood spot (DBS) samples. In total, 169 blood samples with detectable plasma HIV-1 RNA were used to extract RNA from paired DBS and liquid plasma samples, using the automated Abbott m Sample Preparation System (m2000sp). HIV-1 RNA was then quantitated by the m2000rt RealTime analyser. RNA samples suitable for real-time PCR were obtained from all but one (99.4%) of the DBS samples and HIV-1 RNA was detected in 163/168 (97.0%) samples. The correlation between HIV-1 RNA values measured in paired DBS and plasma samples was very high (r = 0.882), with 78.5% and 99.4% of cases differing by <0.5 and 1.0 log, respectively. Retesting of DBS replicates following 6 months of storage at 2–8°C showed no loss of HIV-1 RNA in a subset of 89 samples. The feasibility of DBS testing coupled with automated sample processing, and the use of a latest-generation FDA-approved real-time PCR-based system, represents an encouraging first step for viral load measurement in reference centres in developing countries where access to antiretroviral therapy is expanding.