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July 22, 1988

Rapid Screening Tests for HIV Infection

JAMA. 1988;260(4):542. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03410040114040

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Since March 1985, when the first serologic assay for the detection of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) became commercially available, seven additional assays have been licensed in the United States, and almost 30 more are available or in development outside the United States. With the exception of the Western blot assay (the confirmatory test that detects antibodies to electrophoretically separated virus proteins), all of the assays licensed in the United States are enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). Western blot tests and ELISAs have proven highly sensitive and specific and have been rapidly incorporated in most of the developed countries of the world to screen donated blood and plasma. However, these assays are not always technologically appropriate for many circumstances in the developing world because of the time necessary to complete the tests (1 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours), the need for sophisticated instrumentation to handle fluids and for photometry, the short