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Identifying Recent HIV Infections: From Serological Assays to Genomics

Division of Medical Virology, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa
Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership, Private Bag BO320, Gaborone, Botswana
Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, Doris Duke Medical Research Centre, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041, South Africa
Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA
National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS), Tygerberg Coastal, Johannesburg 2001, South Africa
Research Department of Infection, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK
College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041, South Africa
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Viktor Müller
Viruses 2015, 7(10), 5508-5524;
Received: 9 July 2015 / Revised: 12 October 2015 / Accepted: 13 October 2015 / Published: 23 October 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bioinformatics and Computational Biology of Viruses)
PDF [772 KB, uploaded 23 October 2015]


In this paper, we review serological and molecular based methods to identify HIV infection recency. The accurate identification of recent HIV infection continues to be an important research area and has implications for HIV prevention and treatment interventions. Longitudinal cohorts that follow HIV negative individuals over time are the current gold standard approach, but they are logistically challenging, time consuming and an expensive enterprise. Methods that utilize cross-sectional testing and biomarker information have become an affordable alternative to the longitudinal approach. These methods use well-characterized biological makers to differentiate between recent and established HIV infections. However, recent results have identified a number of limitations in serological based assays that are sensitive to the variability in immune responses modulated by HIV subtypes, viral load and antiretroviral therapy. Molecular methods that explore the dynamics between the timing of infection and viral evolution are now emerging as a promising approach. The combination of serological and molecular methods may provide a good solution to identify recent HIV infection in cross-sectional data. As part of this review, we present the advantages and limitations of serological and molecular based methods and their potential complementary role for the identification of HIV infection recency. View Full-Text
Keywords: recent HIV infection; viral diversity; serology-based assays; molecular-based assays recent HIV infection; viral diversity; serology-based assays; molecular-based assays

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Moyo, S.; Wilkinson, E.; Novitsky, V.; Vandormael, A.; Gaseitsiwe, S.; Essex, M.; Engelbrecht, S.; De Oliveira, T. Identifying Recent HIV Infections: From Serological Assays to Genomics. Viruses 2015, 7, 5508-5524.

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