BACKGROUND: The performance of the recently launched Procleix Ultrio (Chiron/Gen-Probe) human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and hepatitis B virus (HBV) blood screening assay was evaluated in a European multicenter study.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Serial dilutions of reference materials were tested to determine the detection limits. Robustness and specificity were assessed by testing alternating high-load HCV RNA–positive and –negative samples, and 2912 test pools of eight donations. The added value of minipool and single-donation HBV nucleic acid testing protocols was compared to the currently used Prism (Abbott GmbH & Co. KG) hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and Auszyme (Abbott GmbH & Co. KG) dynamic HBsAg tests in 15 HBV seroconversion panels.

RESULTS: The 95 percent detection limits (and 95% confidence interval [CI]) on the WHO International Standards was 26 (16-58) IU per mL for HIV-1 RNA, 4.6 (3.7-6.5) IU per mL for HCV RNA, and 11 (7.3-22) IU per mL for HBV DNA. No cross-contamination was observed. Testing 2912 pools of eight donations revealed 16 initial reactive samples; 11 were confirmed. The specificity after initial testing and percentage of invalid results were 99.83 and 0.48 percent, respectively. The HBV window-period (WP) reductions relative to HBsAg seroconversion in Prism and Auszyme dynamic HBsAg were, respectively, 6 days (95% CI, 3-8) and 9 days (95% CI, 7-12) in 1:8 minipool (MP) testing.

CONCLUSION: The performance characteristics of Procleix Ultrio assay and the Procleix HIV-1 and HCV assay are comparable. The sensitivity for HIV-1 and HCV met the directives of the Paul-Ehrlich Institute and the FDA. The assay can reduce the WP for HBV by 6 days to 2 weeks when used in small MP (<1:8) or single-donation screening protocols.