Viral load testing of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an essential tool for initiating and monitoring the antiretroviral therapy for HIV patients. To this end, several methods including polymerase chain reaction (PCR), branched DNA (bDNA), nucleic acid sequence based amplification assay (NASBA) and internally controlled virion PCR (ICV PCR) have become available. Of these methods, the standard reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) assay has been widely used in Korea. However, no comparison study has been performed among the various detection methods currently used in Korean patients. We evaluated the correlation and agreement between the PCR and the branched DNA (bDNA) assay for measurement of HIV RNA in Korean patients. Eighty randomly selected samples from HIV-1-seropositive patients visiting Yonsei Medical Center Severance Hospital were studied. We found that these assays show good agreement, have a reliable correlation (r = 0.92, mean difference in log10 copies/ mL +/- 2 standard deviation = 0.098 +/- 0.805) and produce values whose relationship is given by the following equation: log10v3 bDNA = -0.3405 + 1.0601 x log10RT-PCR. Thus, we conclude that these two methods may allow direct comparison of the results obtained from different assay systems.
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