A cost-effective particle agglutination assay to detect viral antibodies in dried blood spots: a simple solution to HIV and HCV screening
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During the 1980s epidemiological data available on HIV indicated a low HIV seroprevalence in South Africa compared to the rest of Africa. In support of this, a study indicated a negative HIV incidence among adult Venda men and women diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases. This correlated, at the time, with a negative incidence of HIV in the Kwa-Zulu region of South Africa. Other studies compared the incidence of HIV in Kwa-Zulu in 1985 and again in 1991. These authors reported an extremely low HIV statistical incidence (12/100 000) in 1985, but by 1991 the incidence of HIV in Kwa-Zulu had increased almost 200-fold, to 2 200/100 000. Nine years later, the situation was alarmingly different, with the South African Department of Health assessing that about 10% of the South African population was HIV positive. A rapid increase in HIV seroprevalence prompts the need for a simple, rapid and effective method of screening blood samples for epidemiological survey. A valid assessment of HIV seroprevalence is aided by unlinked anonymous screening — informed consent and councelling is not necessary — making use of simple but accurate assays. Trends in HIV seroprevalence can be determined by repeat surveys.