COVID-19 represents an unprecedented health, social and economic challenge in Australia and around the world. Support Burnet’s COVID-19 emergency response today.
BACKGROUND: Viral load (VL) is a critical marker for monitoring HIV disease progression and response to antiretroviral therapy. In resource-constrained settings, there is a need for a simple and inexpensive assay to monitor infected adults and children. METHODS: We compared versions 2 and 3 of the ExaVir Load assay, Cavidi AB (HIV RT) with the Roche, COBAS Amplicor HIV-1 Monitor assay (HIV RNA) for quantifying HIV VL. RESULTS: The HIV RT version 2 assay showed good sensitivity with detection in 94% of samples with HIV RNA >1000 copies per milliliter. Adult samples were tested using HIV RT version 2 (n = 35) and version 3 (n = 23) assays with plasma volumes of 1 mL (recommended), 0.5 mL and 0.25 mL in comparison with HIV RNA. The HIV RT and HIV RNA assay results were comparable when tested using different volumes. Comparison of results from pediatric samples (n = 27), tested using 1 mL and a smaller volume by HIV RT version 2 were not significantly different. CONCLUSIONS: The HIV RT assay was comparable to the HIV RNA assay with sensitivity approaching that of HIV RNA. Smaller volumes than the recommended 1 mL can be used, improving utility of this assay for pediatric monitoring.