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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

versão On-line ISSN 2078-5135
versão impressa ISSN 0256-9574


MUKENDI, A et al. Evaluating the performance of the GeneXpert HIV-1 qualitative assay as a consecutive test for a new early infant diagnosis algorithm in South Africa. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2021, vol.111, n.9, pp.857-861. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND. The proportion of HIV-exposed infants and young children infected with HIV in South Africa (SA) has declined markedly over the past decade as a result of the country's comprehensive prevention of mother-to-child transmission programme. This decrease has in turn reduced the positive predictive value (PPV) of diagnostic assays, necessitating review of early infant diagnosis (EID) algorithms to ensure improved accuracy. OBJECTIVES. To evaluate the performance of the GeneXpert HIV-1 qualitative assay (Xpert EID) as a consecutive test for infants with an 'HIV-detected' polymerase chain reaction screening test at birth. METHODS. We retrospectively analysed a longitudinal cohort of HIV-exposed infants on whom birth testing was performed, using whole-blood ethylenediaminetetra-acetic acid samples, from four tertiary sites in Gauteng Province between June 2014 and December 2019. Birth samples from all infants with a Cobas AmpliPrep/Cobas TaqMan HIV-1 Qualitative Test v2.0 (CAP/CTM v2.0) HIV-detected screening test, a concurrent Xpert EID test and a subsequent confirmatory CAP/CTM v2.0 test on a separate specimen were included. Performance of the Xpert EID in predicting final HIV status was determined as proportions with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). A comparison of indeterminate CAP/CTM v2.0 results, as per National Health Laboratory Service resulting practice, with discordant CAP/CTM v2.0 v. Xpert EID results was performed. RESULTS. Of 150 infants who met the inclusion criteria, 6 (3.9%) had an Xpert EID result discordant with final HIV status: 5 (3.3%) were false negatives and 1 (0.7%) was false positive. As a consecutive test, the Xpert EID yielded a sensitivity of 96.5% (95% CI 92 - 98.9), specificity of 85.7% (95% CI 42.1 - 99.6), PPV of 99.3% (95% CI 95.7 - 99.9), negative predictive value of 54.5% (95% CI 32.5 - 74.9) and overall accuracy of 96.1% (95% CI 91.5 - 98.5). Using discordant CAP/CTM v2.0/Xpert EID results as criteria to verify indeterminate results instead of current practice would have reduced the number of indeterminate screening results by 42.1%, from 18 (12.6%) to 11 (7.2%), without increasing the false-positive rate. CONCLUSIONS. Addition of the Xpert EID as a consecutive test for specimens with an HIV-detected PCR screening result has the potential to improve the PPV and reduce the indeterminate rate, thereby reducing diagnostic challenges and time to final status, in SA's EID programme.

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