Hospital and public health laboratories across the country are now detecting early-stage HIV infections much sooner than previous tests since the launch of Abbott's ARCHITECT® HIV Ag/Ab Combo assay, a combination antigen-antibody test, in 2010.
Researchers reported finding early stage infections in places not known for high HIV prevalence like Sioux Falls, S.D., where HIV infections are believed to be low. Experts presented their observations this week at an Abbott-sponsored workshop at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry annual meeting.
This year marks 30 years since the first U.S. reports of HIV and AIDS. While there have been significant advances made in the detection and treatment of the virus, each year more than 56,000 people in the U.S. are infected with HIV, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — and one in five people don't know they have it. The CDC also has reported that more than half of new HIV infections are transmitted by recently infected, highly contagious individuals unaware of their HIV status.
The Abbott 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 test may detect HIV up to 20 days earlier than antibody-only tests, which is important in controlling the spread of the virus. This is particularly important because individuals who receive false negative results remain unaware that they have HIV and are not able to take proper precautions.
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