Re: The serological and nucleic acid tests for HIV-1 and HIV-2 are as good as or better than the tests for any other infection. 22 March 2004
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Mark Bartlett,
Communicable Disease Investigator
Toronto, Canada

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Re: Re: The serological and nucleic acid tests for HIV-1 and HIV-2 are as good as or better than the tests for any other infection.

Brian Foley said:

"The better question really, is: “What is the evidence that any FDA- approved HIV-1 EIA or Western Blot test is not specific?”

In 2002, a team of researchers headed by Dr. Olive Shisana conducted a national survey in South Africa (SA) to determine (for the first time ever) the prevalence of antibodies to HIV (single ELISA) in the general population aged 2 and older. The results were published under the title: "Nelson Mandela/HSRC Study of HIV/AIDS: South African National HIV Prevalence, Behavioural Risks and Mass Media. 2002."

The EIA, according to the study, was purported to have a sensitivity and specificity of 99% (Gallo et al. 1997).

The study looked at many age/sex classificaitons, including sexually inactive children aged 2-14. The HSRC study indicated the overall prevalence of anti-HIV in this group to be 5.6%. Based on population data from SAs official statistics department (Stats SA), this would represent about 765,000 infections.* Of these, only about 65,000* could be due to mother-to-child transmission(MTCT), leaving 700,000 infections unaccounted for.

My question to Brian Foley -- how do you reconcile these data? It would seem there are about 700,000 infections where no means of transmission has been identified.

(* Courtesy of Rodney Richards)

Competing interests: None declared