Discordant rapid HIV tests: lessons from a low-resource community

A. A. Adetunji*, M. A. Kuti, R. A. Audu, S. A. Muyibi, M. Imhansoloeva, O. A. Mosuro, E. A. Solanke, O. M. Akpa, A. E. Irabor, M. M.A. Ladipo, B. Berzins, K. Robertson, A. Ogunniyi, I. F. Adewole, B. O. Taiwo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives: HIV rapid antibody tests are widely used in Africa, but dual testing sometimes produces discordant results. It is not clear if discordant rapid HIV tests should always heighten suspicion by frontline health workers that early HIV infection is present. Some studies have reported that discordant rapid tests have value for identifying early HIV infection in high HIV prevalence populations. It is not known if rapid test performance influenced this conclusion, or if this observation will hold true for low HIV prevalence populations. We therefore explored the occurrence of discordant rapid HIV tests in a low-resource community. Methods: A cross-sectional sample of HIV status-unaware adults with recent exposure to unsafe sex was assessed using a validated risk-based tool (University of North Carolina (UNC)-Malawi Risk Screening Score) for acute HIV infection. Participants received rapid testing with Determine™ HIV 1/2 and Uni-Gold™ HIV assays, plus plasma HIV-1 antigen testing with the COBAS® Ampliprep/COBAS® Taqman® HIV-1 assay, followed by western blot in those with detected HIV-1 antigen. Results: Of 408 participants, 1.0% were confirmed to have established HIV infection. The discordance between rapid tests at initial screening was 2.45 and 2.94% when the two assays were used sequentially and simultaneously, respectively. Discordant rapid tests were strongly associated with risk scores > 2 [odds ratio (OR) 10.88; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.35–50.43], and with detected HIV-1 RNA (OR 26.06; 95% CI 3.91–173.60). Conclusions: When the sample occurrence of discordance between the first and second tests is below 5%, discordant rapid tests in an adult with sexual risk behaviour should trigger strong suspicion of early HIV infection in low HIV prevalence populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-76
Number of pages5
JournalHIV Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Africa
  • HIV
  • HIV antibody test
  • acute HIV infection
  • discordant rapid tests
  • early HIV infection
  • rapid HIV test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Health Policy


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