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BACKGROUND: HIV rapid tests (RT) are a quick and non-technically demanding means to perform HIV voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) but understanding their limitations is vital to delivering quality VCT. OBJECTIVE: To determine the sensitivity and specificity of HIV rapid tests used for research and voluntary counselling and testing at four sites in East Africa. DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. SETTING: Masaka District, Uganda; a sugar plantation in Kakira, Uganda; Coastal Villages in the Kilifi District of Kenya; and the Urban slum of Kangemi located West of Nairobi, Kenya. SUBJECTS: Six thousands two hundred and fifty five consenting volunteers were enrolled into the study, and 675 prevalent HIV infections were identified. RESULTS: The RT sensitivity tended to be high for all assays at all sites (97.63-100%) with the exception of the Uni-Gold assay (90.24% in Kangemi, 96.58% in Kilifi). Twenty four RT results were recorded as 'weak positives', 22 (92%) of which were negative by ELISA. There was a high rate of RT false positives in Uganda (positive predictive values ranging from 45.70% to 86.62%). CONCLUSIONS: The sensitivity and specificity of the RT varied significantly across sites. The rate of RT misclassification in Uganda suggests that a multiple test algorithm may be preferable to a single test as screener for HIV VCT.

Type

Journal article

Journal

East Afr Med J

Publication Date

10/2008

Volume

85

Pages

500 - 504

Keywords

AIDS Serodiagnosis, Adolescent, Adult, Algorithms, Cross-Sectional Studies, Directive Counseling, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay, Feasibility Studies, Female, HIV Infections, HIV-1, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Predictive Value of Tests, Reagent Kits, Diagnostic, Sensitivity and Specificity, Young Adult