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September 2, 2009

Cheap viral load test is as reliable as standard: Botswana places large order

"A new viral load test designed for resource-poor settings is as reliable as a standard assay, according to a report in the Journal of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndromes. The test, the ExaVir Load assay designed by the Swedish firm Cavidi, produces reliable results with samples as small as 0.25 millilitres, implying that it could be used for paediatric use. However it only produced consistent results for people with viral loads over 1000, the researchers note.

"Cavidi has been producing low-cost viral load assays since 2002, and the researchers tested versions 2 and 3 of the ExaVir Load assay. The researchers found that the average cost of the assay including all equipment was one-fifth of the test they compared it with, the Roche COBAS Amplicor assay. ...

ExaVir is a purely quantitative assay that measures the amount of reverse transcription and therefore cannot detect what kind of viral RNA is being produced. Because of this it cannot detect resistance mutations or HIV subtype – but should be able to detect novel subtypes which may be missed by RNA assays."

Read more in Aidsmap, September 1, 2009.