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Identifying recent HIV infections : from serological assays to genomics

Moyo, Sikhulile ; Wilkinson, Eduan ; Novitsky, Vladimir ; Vandormael, Alain ; Gaseitsiwe, Simani ; Essex, Max ; Engelbrecht, Susan ; De Oliveira, Tulio (2015-10-23)

CITATION: Moyo, S. et al. 2015. Identifying recent HIV infections : from serological assays to genomics. Viruses, 7(10):5508-5524, doi:10.3390/v7102887.

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In this paper, we review serological and molecular based methods to identify HIV infection recency. The accurate identification of recent HIV infection continues to be an important research area and has implications for HIV prevention and treatment interventions. Longitudinal cohorts that follow HIV negative individuals over time are the current gold standard approach, but they are logistically challenging, time consuming and an expensive enterprise. Methods that utilize cross-sectional testing and biomarker information have become an affordable alternative to the longitudinal approach. These methods use well-characterized biological makers to differentiate between recent and established HIV infections. However, recent results have identified a number of limitations in serological based assays that are sensitive to the variability in immune responses modulated by HIV subtypes, viral load and antiretroviral therapy. Molecular methods that explore the dynamics between the timing of infection and viral evolution are now emerging as a promising approach. The combination of serological and molecular methods may provide a good solution to identify recent HIV infection in cross-sectional data. As part of this review, we present the advantages and limitations of serological and molecular based methods and their potential complementary role for the identification of HIV infection recency.

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