The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved the first assay to detect both antigen and antibodies to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). This assay is approved for use as an aid in the diagnosis of HIV-1/HIV-2 infection in adults including pregnant women. It is also the first assay for use as an aid in the diagnosis of HIV-1/HIV-2 infection in children as young as two years old.
The highly sensitive assay is intended to be used as an aid in the diagnosis of HIV-1/HIV-2 infection, including acute or primary HIV-1 infection. Since it actually detects the HIV-1 virus (specifically the p24 antigen) in addition to antibodies to HIV, the ARCHITECT HIV Ag/Ab Combo assay can be used to diagnose HIV infection prior to the emergence of antibodies. Most tests used today in the diagnostic setting detect HIV antibodies only. Although direct detection of the virus itself by nucleic acid testing is available, it is not widely used in diagnostic settings.
HIV is the virus that can lead to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. HIV damages a person’s body by destroying specific blood cells, called CD4+ T cells, which are crucial to helping the body fight diseases. Two types of HIV have been identified: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is responsible for most HIV infections throughout the world. HIV-2 is found primarily in West Africa; however, cases of HIV-2 infection have been reported in North America and Europe.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately 18 million people in the United States are tested for HIV each year. Most recent CDC estimates are that there are about 56,000 new HIV infections in the United States each year. In addition, there are more than 1 million people living with HIV in the United States, according to CDC.
“The approval of this assay represents an advancement in our ability to better diagnose HIV infection in diagnostic settings where nucleic acid testing to detect the virus itself is not routinely used,” said Karen Midthun, M.D., acting director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “It provides for more sensitive detection of recent HIV infections compared with antibody tests alone.”
The ARCHITECT HIV Ag/Ab Combo assay is not intended to be used for routine screening of blood donors. However, it is approved as a donor screening assay for HIV-1/HIV-2 infection in urgent situations where licensed blood donor screening tests are unavailable or their use is impractical.
The ARCHITECT HIV Ag/Ab Combo assay will be used in clinical laboratories and in public health laboratories, and is the first assay approved in the United States to detect HIV antigen and antibodies simultaneously.
The ARCHITECT HIV Ag/Ab Combo assay is manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, Illinois.