South African Medical Journal

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Evaluation of a rapid test for HIV antibodies in saliva and blood

L M Webber, C Swanevelder, W O K Grabow, P B Fourie


Objective. To test whole blood and saliva for HIV antibodies (anti-HIV) using a rapid test strip capillary flow . immunoassay, and to correlate the test strip results with blood specimen results obtained from routine diagnostic antiHIV assays.
Design. A prospective pilot study of selected HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals, children and medico-Iegal cases from Gauteng, South Africa.
Methods. Whole blood specimens taken from every individual and medico-Iegal case (total study population 153) and saliva specimens taken from 76 selected cases were tested for antiHIV using the respective Hema-Strip HIV-1/2, Sero-Strip HIV-1/2 and Saliva-Strip HIV-1/2 (Saliva Diagnostic Systems Inc.) rapid test strip methodology. All results were correlated with the currently recommended anti-HIV assays.
Results. The whole blood test strip results correlated 100% with the traditional diagnostic results. Only two saliva test strip results tested false-negative, both from marasmic and severely dehydrated babies, while the other results were in concordance. All test strip results on postmortem blood and saliva were fully concordant with the diagnostic assay results.
Conclusion. The anti-HIV test strip methodology for whole blood and saliva specimens is rapid, reliable and easy to perform and interpret. Saliva specimens can be readily collected from any individual, and there is a reduction in hazard risk. Anti-HIV saliva testing using the test strip methodology is recommended for South Africa, particularly in high-risk situations such as the paediatric and forensic medicine settings. A larger field study obtaining specimens from different regions in South Africa is advised.

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