The use of plasma is an obstacle to realize HIV-1 viral load in sub-Saharan Africa. In this context, the dried blood spot (DBS) is an interesting tool for sample collections. This approach was tested using a DBS hole-punch device (PUNCHER). Plasma and DBS samples were obtained from 102 patients, comprising 17 HIV-1 negative patients and 85 HIV-1 infected patients. The PUNCHER’s performance used to cut DBS was evaluated with the following criteria: ease of use, time savings and safety. VL was measured in parallel on plasma and DBS samples using NucliSENS EasyQ HIV-1. The correlation between plasma and DBS results was strong (R = 0.91; P < 0.001). The mean difference (± standard deviation) was -0.59 ± 0.52 log10 copies/ml. The sensitivity and specificity of DBS were 91.3% (n= 74) for the 81 VL detectable samples and 100% for the 21 VL undetectable samples, respectively. On a scale of 10, the PUNCHER’s performance scored 9.3 for ease of use, 8.6 for time savings and 10 for safety. PUNCHER is highly efficient at cutting DBS, and the VL resulting from DBS correlated well with those obtained from plasma.
Key words: Puncher, dried blood spot (DBS), viral load, performance.
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