A hepatitis C avidity test for determining recent and past infections in both plasma and dried blood spots

Shepherd, Samantha J. and Keen, Joy and Hutchinson, Sharon and Cameron, Sheila O. and Goldberg, David J. and Carman, W. and Gunson, R.N. and Aitken, Celia (2013) A hepatitis C avidity test for determining recent and past infections in both plasma and dried blood spots. Journal of Clinical Virology, 57 (1). pp. 29-35. ISSN 1386-6532 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcv.2013.01.002)

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DBS testing has been used successfully to detect HCV antibody positive individuals. Determining how long someone has been infected is important for surveillance initiatives. Antibody avidity is a method that can be used to calculate recency of infection. A HCV avidity assay was evaluated for both plasma and DBS. Study design: To measure antibody avidity a commercial HCV ELISA was modified using 7 M urea. The plasma samples were split into: group 1 (recently infected N = 19), group 2 (chronic carrier N = 300) and group 3 (resolved infection N = 82). Mock DBS made from group 1 (N = 12), group 2 (N = 50), group 3 (N = 25) and two seroconverter panels were evaluated. 133 DBS taken from patients known to have a resolved infection or be a chronic carrier were also tested. The avidity assay cut-off was set at AI ≤ 30 for a recent infection. Using sequential samples the assay could detect a recent infection in the first 4–5 months from the point of infection. Most of the false positive results (AI < 30 among cases known not to have had recent infection) were detected among known resolved infections, in both the plasma and DBS; as a result, a testing algorithm has been designed incorporating both PCR and two dilution factors. The sensitivity and specificity of the assay on plasma was 100% and 99.3%, respectively, while DBS had 100% sensitivity and 98.3% specificity. The HCV avidity assay can be used to distinguish between chronic and recent infection using either plasma or DBS as the sample type.