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An Overview of HIV Detection Reagents

AIDS is still a threat to the human society with a high mortality rate. The detection of HIV is an important part in AIDS diagnostic.

AIDS, namely acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, and is characterized by the reduction of human CD4+ T lymphocytes. Various opportunistic infections, malignant tumors, and central nervous system lesions may follow in the later stages of the disease, leading to a high mortality rate.

According to the detection target, HIV detection reagents are roughly divided into antibody detection reagents, antigen detection reagents, nucleic acid detection reagents and HIV genotype drug resistance detection reagents. The types of samples tested include blood, urine, oral mucosal exudate, etc.

  • Fluorescence detection reagents

After HIV infection, the period before HIV antibodies, antigens or nucleic acids and other infection markers in the sera of infected people can be detected is called the window period. Infected persons at this stage are contagious, but cannot be identified by detection methods. With the iterative updates of testing methods, the AIDS window period has been shortened repeatedly.

  • Antibody rapid detection reagent

These reagents use immunochromatographic techniques such as colloidal gold to detect HIV antibodies in subjects’ blood, oral mucosal exudate, and other samples. Rapid detection reagents generally take only 20 minutes to obtain results.

  • Self-testing reagent

Different from the other detection reagents mentioned above, the self-testing reagents, based on the required performance, are easier to operate, and the instruction manual is more popular, which is suitable for people without professional background. In the pre-marketing clinical trial research of such reagents, self-examination tests were carried out on the target users in hospitals, homes and other possible places, then a questionnaire found out that the consumers grasped the key information such as instructions and labels, confirming the reliability of this kind of reagents for consumers who have no professional background.

  • HIV antibody confirmation detection reagent

The above-mentioned reagents all belong to the category of antibody preliminary screening detection reagents, but one cannot give conclusions about the infection of HIV by the subjects based only on the preliminary screening test results. In clinical, for people who show positive resluts in preliminary tests, they should receive retesting such as western blotting (WB), band/linear immunoassay (RIBA/LIA), and indirect immunofluorescence (IFA) are required. Such reagents are called HIV antibody confirmation detection reagent.

  • HIV nucleic acid detection reagents

After the patient is infected with HIV, the virus replicates rapidly in the body. When the viral RNA in the blood is higher than the detection limit of the nucleic acid detection reagent, the HIV nucleic acid test result is positive. At this time, the epidemiological history, clinical symptoms and HIV antibody screening can be combined to get the final result. It is currently believed that the window period for HIV nucleic acid testing can be shortened to about one week.

  • HIV genotyping drug resistance detection reagents

HIV drug resistance test results can provide an important reference for the formulation and adjustment of AIDS treatment programs. The test result of drug resistance means that the virus in the infected person may be resistant. Thus, it is necessary to closely integrate the clinical situation, the compliance, the drug tolerance, the drug metabolic absorption and other factors.

All currently available detection reagents have their own uses and limitations, and the HIV detection strategy should be determined according to the application and industry technical specifications.

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