The significance of indeterminate screening antibody test for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) serology is still difficult to evaluate, especially in low-risk populations. One hundred twenty-seven blood donors with an initially reactive screening test for HIV antibodies were enrolled in this study. The sera of 95 of these blood donors were reactive on repetition of the test, and none had detectable circulating p24 antigen. Western blot (WB) analysis of the repeatedly reactive sera was as follows: 9 positive, 31 indeterminate, and 55 negative. One of the blood donors with indeterminate WB later presented a seroconversion. On subsequent control 3 to 12 months later, the sera from donors with indeterminate or negative WB did not present any parameters that may indicate a seroconversion. DNA was purified from citrated blood collected from the 127 blood donors at the time of the initial antibody screening. Five micrograms of each DNA sample corresponding to 7 x 10(5) nucleated white blood cells was amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in the presence of oligonucleotides (primers) corresponding to a highly conserved segment of the pol gene. The detection of amplified DNA was achieved by dot blot and Southern blot using appropriate 32P-labeled oligonucleotides. Ten DNA samples were positive, 9 corresponded to blood donors with a positive HIV serology, and 1 to the blood donor who later presented a seroconversion. These results confirm the sensitivity of the PCR for the diagnosis of HIV infection; they also suggest that repetition of the serology at 3- to 12-month intervals is a valuable procedure for the control of HIV infection status in blood donors.

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