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Low Specificities of HIV Diagnostic Tests Caused by Trypanosoma brucei gambiense Sleeping Sickness ▿

By V. Lejon, D. Mumba Ngoyi, M. Ilunga, G. Beelaert, I. Maes, P. Büscher and K. Fransen


The accuracy of diagnostic tests for HIV in patients with tropical infections is poorly documented. Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) is characterized by a polyclonal B-cell activation, constituting a risk for false-positive reactions to diagnostic tests, including HIV tests. A retrospective study of the accuracy of HIV diagnostic tests was performed with 360 human African HAT patients infected with Trypanosoma brucei gambiense before treatment and 163 T. b. gambiense-infected patients 2 years after successful treatment in Mbuji Mayi, East Kasai, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The sensitivities, specificities, and positive predictive values (PPVs) of individual tests and algorithms consisting of 3 rapid tests were determined. The sensitivity of all tests was 100% (11/11). The low specificity (96.3%, 335/348) and PPV (45.8%, 11/24) of a classical seroconfirmation strategy (Vironostika enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [ELISA] followed by line immunoassay) complicated the determination of HIV status, which had to be determined by PCR. The specificities of the rapid diagnostic tests were 39.1% for Determine (136/348); 85.3 to 92.8% (297/348 to 323/348) for Vikia, ImmunoFlow, DoubleCheck, and Bioline; and 96.6 to 98.3% (336/348 to 342/348) for Uni-Gold, OraQuick, and Stat-Pak. The specificity of Vironostika was 67.5% (235/348). PPVs ranged between 4.9 and 64.7%. Combining 3 different rapid tests resulted in specificities of 98.3 to 100% (342/348 to 348/348) and PPVs of 64.7 to 100% (11/17 to 11/11). For cured HAT patients, specificities were significantly higher for Vironostika, Determine, Uni-Gold, and ImmunoFlow. T. b. gambiense infection decreases the specificities of antibody detection tests for HIV diagnosis. Unless tests have been validated for interference with HAT, HIV diagnosis using classical algorithms in untreated HAT patients should be avoided. Specific, validated combinations of 3 HIV rapid tests can increase specificity

Topics: Virology
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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