Objective(s): To determine if mishandling prior to testing would make a sample from a chronically infected subject appear recently infected when tested by cross-sectional HIV incidence assays. Methods: Serum samples from 31 subjects with chronic HIV infection were tested. Samples were subjected to different handling conditions, including incubation at 4°C, 25°C and 37°C, for 1, 3, 7 or 15 days prior to testing. Samples were also subjected to 1,3, 7 and 15 freeze-thaw cycles prior to testing. Samples were tested using the BED capture enzyme immuno assay (BED-CEIA), Vironostika-less sensitive (V-LS), and an avidity assay using the Genetic Systems HIV-1/HIV-2 plus O EIA (avidity assay). Results: Compared to the sample that was not subjected to any mishandling conditions, for the BED-CEIA, V-LS and avidity assay, there was no significant change in test results for samples incubated at 4°C or 25°C prior to testing. No impact on test results occurred after 15 freeze-thaw cycles. A decrease in assay results was observed when samples were held for 3 days or longer at 37°C prior to testing. Conclusions: Samples can be subjected up to 15 freeze-thaw cycles without affecting the results the BED-CEIA, Vironostika-LS, or avidity assays. Storing samples at 4°C or 25°C for up to fifteen days prior to testing had no impact on test results. However, storing samples at 37°C for three or more days did affect results obtained with these assays.
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