Rapid Screening Tests for HIV

Judith Pachciarz, PhD, MD; Asa Barnes, MD
JAMA. 1989;261(8):1147-1148. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420080061015.
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To the Editor. —  We read with interest the article by Quinn et al1 about the rapid latex agglutination assay for antibody to HIV, but feel that their conclusions are not justified by the data. There were significant differences between the two test groups. The claimed 100% specificity and 99.3% sensitivity for the latex agglutination assay were calculated only for the test panel group, as acknowledged by the authors. This test panel group encompassed a total of 1220 tests, performed in a US research laboratory by one experienced technician. The results obtained from this group were extended to justify the conclusions drawn from the results of field tests on 1600 Zairian blood donors. These conclusions are not valid because false-negatives could not be detected in the Zairian donor group. The test panel group had Western blot tests as well as latex agglutination tests performed on every sample, whereas the


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