Aids Testing

Graeme Price g.e.price at
Sun Sep 10 08:58:10 EST 1995

In article <Pine.SGI.3.91.950910010033.8358C-100000 at>,
Julia Paonessa <paoness at> wrote:

> Hello, I have a few questions on present day AIDS testing.  I also posted 
> this message on  
> Is there a certain blood concentration of HIV that must be reached before 
> the test will give a positive result?
> I read in PROMED that, during the recent outbreak of Ebola in Zaire, they 
> were testing blood serum from patients with a dipstick test for AIDS.
> Thank-you for your time
> Julia Paonessa
> email: paoness at

When I was working in a hospital virology lab a few years ago, all the
screening for HIV in serum was by antibody detection (i.e. looking for
specific Ab to HIV) using the Behring anti-HIV 1+2 ELISA kit. Checking
with the protocol sheet (like many scientists I never throw anything
away), the plate was coated with synthetic (recombinant?) peptides from
the immunoreactive regions of gp41 (2 from HIV-1, 1 from HIV-2) and gp120
(HIV-1). Unfortunately there is not data on the sheets I have about
minimum concentrations of Ab which the ELISA will pick up. We also used a
second test (manufactured by Abbott) to detect p24 antigen in known
positive patients as a marker of disease progress. p24 (core) antigen
rises in proportion to viral load and hence is a marker (although I'm not
sure how good) for the onset of full blown AIDS. The p24 kit was much more
expensive than the anti-HIV kit though.

All this is old knowledge (3 years or so) I've tried to dig up as best I
can, I'm afraid. At the moment I have nothing to do with diagnostic
virology (or HIV/AIDS at all), but I guess things haven't really changed
that much since then.


Graeme Price
Microbial Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology Group, 
School of Biological Sciences, Biology West Building,
University of Birmingham,
Edgbaston, Birmingham,
West Midlands, B15 2TT.
United Kingdom.

Tel. (+44) (0)121 414 6555
Fax. (+44) (0)121 414 6557
E-mail g.e.price at

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