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New Test Detects HIV Antibodies and Antigen

New Test Detects HIV Antibodies and Antigen

Every 9.5 minutes, someone in the United States is infected with HIV, and one out of every five of these individuals doesn't know it. To help stem the spread of this disease, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved an innovative new diagnostic tool that will allow patients to be diagnosed earlier than ever before.

Abbott's Architect HIV Ag/Ab Combo assay is the first test approved in the United States that can simultaneously detect both HIV antigen and antibodies. HIV antigen is a protein produced by the virus immediately after infection, whereas antibodies are developed days later as the body works to fight off the infection. Studies have demonstrated that Abbott's new test may detect HIV days earlier than antibody-only tests, which is important in controlling the spread of the virus.

"Since individuals are most infectious to others shortly after infection, detecting HIV earlier is critical and lifesaving," said Peter Leone, MD, medical director of the North Carolina HIV/STD Prevention and Control Branch at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. "A significant percentage of new HIV infections are transmitted by someone with an undetected acute infection, so identifying more people earlier offers a significant opportunity for counseling, which can reduce high-risk behaviors and also initiate antiretroviral treatment for early-stage infection, if appropriate."

Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that current antibody-only tests miss up to 10% of HIV infections in some high-risk populations because they do not detect antigens. However, Abbott's new assay detects the HIV p24 antigen, or the direct presence of HIV, allowing for diagnosis of early infections days before antibodies emerge.

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