Expanding Access to HIV Viral Load Testing: A Systematic Review of RNA Stability in EDTA Tubes and PPT beyond Current Time and Temperature Thresholds
Authors: Kimberly Bonner, Reed A. Siemieniuk, Andrew Boozary, Teri Roberts, Emmanuel Fajardo, Jennifer Cohn
HIV viral load (VL) testing is the gold standard for antiretroviral treatment monitoring, but many barriers exist to VL testing in resource-limited settings, including storage and transport limitations for whole blood and plasma. Data from various studies indicate that HIV RNA is stable beyond current recommendations. We conducted a systematic review to assess stability data of HIV RNA in whole blood and plasma across times and temperatures. Conclusions: Whole blood and plasma samples in EDTA may remain stable under conditions exceeding current manufacturer recommendations for HIV VL testing. However, given the limited number of studies addressing this question, especially at low levels of viremia, additional evaluations on HIV RNA stability in EDTA tubes and PPT in field conditions are needed.