What is the role of nucleic acid amplification techniques (NAATs) in HIV testing?

Updated: Sep 19, 2018
  • Author: David J Cennimo, MD, FAAP, FACP, AAHIVS; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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The detection of the proviral DNA is rarely used in clinical practice, the exception being diagnosis of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–1 infection in infants. The technique is based on amplification of the proviral DNA from infected peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and detection by DNA probe. The test is very sensitive, capable of detecting 1-10 copies/mL of HIV proviral DNAs. This assay is not FDA approved for the diagnosis of HIV-1 infection.

The viral RNA can be detected by target (nucleic acid sequence-based amplification and reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction [PCR]) and signal amplification (branched-chain DNA). [22] These assays are used for screening of blood products, therapeutic monitoring, and diagnosis of acute HIV-1 infection. The Aptima HIV-1 RNA Qualitative Assay [47] is the only FDA-approved test for detecting acute HIV infection.

For more information, see PCR HIV Test.

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