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J Clin Pathol. 1988 May; 41(5): 582–585.
PMCID: PMC1141517

Pooling of sera for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing: an economical method for use in developing countries.


To determine whether donated blood samples in African countries could be pooled, then tested for the presence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibodies with a single test without loss of accuracy, a single test on five pooled samples was used, followed by individual testing of positive pools. This resulted in no loss of either sensitivity or specificity. Pooling 10 samples resulted in a loss of sensitivity for low antibody titre specimens. Pooling reduced the costs of screening by 70% and time needed for analysis. It is concluded that pooling of five samples for HIV screening may result in a substantial reduction in costs; in countries where the prevalence of HIV is higher than the 2-3% found in Zimbabwean donors, however, savings may not be as great.

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Selected References

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  • Mann JM, Francis H, Quinn TC, Bila K, Asila PK, Bosenge N, Nzilambi N, Jansegers L, Piot P, Ruti K, et al. HIV seroprevalence among hospital workers in Kinshasa, Zaire. Lack of association with occupational exposure. JAMA. 1986 Dec 12;256(22):3099–3102. [PubMed]
  • Milner LV, Vorster BJ, Conradie JD, Brain P. Anti-HTLV-III testing--a practical solution for blood transfusion services? S Afr Med J. 1985 Dec 21;68(13):921–922. [PubMed]
  • Burke DS, Redfield RR. False-positive Western blot tests for antibodies to HTLV-III. JAMA. 1986 Jul 18;256(3):347–347. [PubMed]
  • Carlson JR, Mertens SC, Yee JL, Gardner MB, Watson-Williams EJ, Ghrayeb J, Jennings MB, Biggar RJ. Rapid, easy, and economical screening test for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus. Lancet. 1987 Feb 14;1(8529):361–362. [PubMed]

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