PloS one 2017 07 1312(7) e0181054 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0181054
Quantitative plasma viral load (VL) at 1000 copies /mL was recommended as the threshold to confirm antiretroviral therapy (ART) failure by the World Health Organization (WHO). Because of ongoing challenges of using plasma for VL testing in resource-limited settings (RLS), especially for children, this study collected 717 DBS and paired plasma samples from children receiving ART ≥1 year in Mozambique and compared the performance of DBS using Abbott’s VL test with a paired plasma sample using Roche’s VL test. At a cut-off of 1000 copies/mL, sensitivity of DBS using Abbott DBS VL test was 79.9%, better than 71.0% and 63.9% at 3000 and 5000 copies/mL, respectively. Specificities were 97.6%, 98.8%, 99.3% at 1000, 3000, and 5000 copies/mL, respectively. The Kappa value at 1000 copies/mL, 0.80 (95% CI: 0.73, 0.87), was higher than 0.73 (95% CI: 0.66, 0.80) and 0.66 (95% CI: 0.59, 0.73) at 3000, 5000 copies/mL, respectively, also indicating better agreement. The mean difference between the DBS and plasma VL tests with 95% limits of agreement by Bland-Altman was 0.311 (-0.908, 1.530). Among 73 children with plasma VL between 1000 to 5000 copies/mL, the DBS results were undetectable in 53 at the 1000 copies/mL threshold. While one DBS sample in the Abbott DBS VL test may be an alternative method to confirm ART failure at 1000 copies/mL threshold when a plasma sample is not an option for treatment monitoring, because of sensitivity concerns between 1,000 and 5,000 copies/ml, two DBS samples may be preferred accompanied by careful patient monitoring and repeat testing.