HIV-1 diagnosis using dried blood spots from patients in Kinshasa, DRC: a tool to detect misdiagnosis and achieve World Health Organization 2030 targets
David Barquín 1 , Adolphe Ndarabu 2 , Silvia Carlos 3 , Mirian Fernández-Alonso 4 , Marina Rubio-Garrido 5 , Benit Makonda 2 , África Holguín 5 , Gabriel Reina 6
Introduction: Currently, only 54% of the population of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) know their HIV status. The aim of this study was to detect HIV misdiagnosis from rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) and to evaluate serological immunoassays using dried blood spots (DBS) from patients in Kinshasa, DRC.
Methods: Between 2016 and 2018, 365 DBS samples were collected from 363 individuals and shipped to Spain. The samples were from people with a new HIV positive (n = 123) or indeterminate (n = 23) result, known HIV-positive patients (n = 157), and a negative control group (n = 62).
HIV serology was performed using Elecsys HIV combi PT (Roche), VIDAS HIV Duo Quick (BioMérieux), and Geenius (Bio-Rad). In addition, HIV RNA detection was performed in all samples using the COBAS AmpliPrep/COBAS Taqman HIV-1 Test 2.0 (Roche).
Results: Overall, 272 samples were found to be positive and 93 to be negative for HIV serology. The sensitivity was 100% for both Elecsys and VIDAS techniques, but specificity was slightly higher for the VIDAS test: 100% (96.1-100%) vs 98.9% (94.1-99.9%). Of the 23 indeterminate cases using RDT, only three cases were true-positives with a detectable viral load. Eleven samples out of the 280 classified as positive by RDT corresponded to nine patients who had received a false diagnosis of HIV through RDT (3.9%); six of them had been on antiretroviral therapy for at least 2 years.
Conclusions: Elecsys HIV combi PT and VIDAS HIV Duo Quick immunoassays showed high sensitivity and specificity when using DBS. RDT-based serological diagnosis can lead to HIV misdiagnosis with personal and social consequences in sub-Saharan Africa.