Journal Article

Discrepant test findings in Early Infant Diagnosis of HIV in a National Reference Laboratory in Kenya: Challenges and Opportunities for Programs

Sheila Kageha, Vincent Okoth, Silvia Kadima, Stella Vihenda, Elphas Okapesi, Elizabeth Nyambura, Alex Maiyo, Nancy Ndung’u, Samoel Khamadi and Matilu Mwau

in Journal of Tropical Pediatrics

Volume 58, issue 4, pages 247-252
Published in print August 2012 | ISSN: 0142-6338
Published online November 2011 | e-ISSN: 1465-3664 | DOI:
Discrepant test findings in Early Infant Diagnosis of HIV in a National Reference Laboratory in Kenya: Challenges and Opportunities for Programs

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Background: In Kenya, the availability of a cheap diagnostic service for HIV-exposed infants has helped scale-up access to treatment, and provided a means by which programs that support Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV can be evaluated. As expected for any large testing program, discrepant and indeterminate results present a significant challenge.

Methods: Dried Blood Spots were collected from health centers countrywide and couriered to four laboratories for tests. Results were dispatched either by email, telephone, GSM SMS printer or courier. Between 2006 and 2009, tests were conducted with the Manual Roche v. 1.5 Assay. In 2010 the labs switched fully to the Cobas® AmpliPrep/ Cobas® TaqMan® HIV-1 Qual automated Roche Test.

Results: Between 2006 and 2010, the KEMRI CVR EID Lab conducted 64 591 HIV tests in on children <18 months of age. HIV tests (38 834) used the manual assay, while 17 133 tests used the automated assay. Overall, 10.7% (6915) of the samples tested positive, while 86.6% (55 967) tested negative. A total of 1.6% (1041) tested indeterminate and required a re-bleed of the infant. Two hundred positive tests by the manual assay were retrieved randomly and retested using the automated assay. Among them, 192 (96%) remained positive, 5 (2.5%) were negative while 3 (1.5%) failed. A total of 160 negative samples by the manual assay were retrieved and retested with the automated assay. Among them, 154 (96.24%) remained negative, 3 (1.88%) tested positive while 3 (1.88%) failed. A total of 215 samples that gave indeterminate results by the manual assay were retested using the automated system. Among them, 62 (28.8%) gave positive results, 144 (66.97%) negative and 6 (2.8%) samples still gave discrepant results. Three (1.4%) did not amplify successfully. A few infants who were apparently positive appeared to test HIV negative with age.

Conclusions: Indeterminate results are a significant challenge for HIV diagnostic services, as seen in the Kenyan EID Program. In our experience, they are more often negative than they are positive. False positive and false negative results can arise from clerical error, contamination and limitations of the technologies available. To forestall the consequences of such outcomes, the sensitivity and specificity of available assays must be further improved. All HIV positive samples should be retested for confirmation, and if confirmed, a new sample must be drawn and tested for DNA at the time the infant receives their initial results or starts antiretroviral therapy. Viral clearance is a phenomenon that requires further studies.

Keywords: early infant diagnosis; HIV; discrepant results; dried blood spots

Journal Article.  3263 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Paediatrics

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