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CDC Updates HIV Lab Testing

By on July 6, 2014

As of 2010, an estimated 1.1 million persons in the United States were living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, of whom an estimated 181,000 were unaware of their infection. Approximately 49,000 new HIV diagnoses are reported to CDC each year, and the estimated number of new infections has remained stable at approximately 50,000 annually from 2008 to 2010.

CDC and the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) recently issued Updated Recommendations for Laboratory Testing for the Diagnosis of HIV Infection. This document also offers approaches for reporting test results to people ordering HIV tests and to public health authorities.

The updated recommendations also include tests for HIV antigens and HIV nucleic acid because studies from populations at high risk for HIV demonstrate that antibody testing alone might miss a considerable percentage of HIV infections detectable by virologic tests.

These updated recommendations are intended only for testing of serum or plasma specimens from adults and children aged 2 years or older. Because maternal antibodies against HIV might be present in uninfected infants born to HIV-infected mothers, specific recommendations to establish the presence or absence of the diagnosis of HIV infection in infants are described elsewhere.


These updated recommendations do not address methods or strategies for screening blood or organ donors for HIV infection; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) have issued separate guidance and recommendations on this topic.