On Monday, June 21, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of a new diagnostic test for HIV infection. The new test, called the ARCHITECT HIV Ag/Ab Combo assay, looks for both HIV antigens and antibodies. The test promises faster and more reliable detection of HIV infection.
"Antigens are proteins produced by a virus, bacteria or other microorganisms immediately after infection," according to an article by CNN, "They stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies–a protein found in the blood that helps fight foreign substances such as?viruses. Antibodies develop days after the initial infection as the body works to fight off infection."
The new assay, produced by Abbott Laboratories, diagnosis both HIV-1 and HIV-2 infections in adults, pregnant women and children 2 years and older.
"Since individuals are most infectious to others shortly after infection, detecting HIV earlier is critical and life saving," said Peter Leone, MD, medical director, North Carolina HIV/STD Prevention and Control Branch, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in a company news release. "A significant percentage of new HIV infections are transmitted by someone with an undetected acute infection, so identifying more people earlier offers a significant opportunity for counseling, which can reduce high-risk behaviors and also initiate antiretroviral treatment for early-stage infection, if appropriate."