Despite the introduction of fourth generation ELISA test for HIV, only few blood banks in Bangalore have the newest kit.
Few years ago, a bollywood movie described the life of 10 people infected by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). However, despite movies being made over the years to create awareness about HIV, the new technology for its easy detection is yet to be introduced in many blood banks of Bangalore. One such technology is ELISA (Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay) 4A (Rodgers Blood Group) test kit.
The Softcopy contacted 17 of the 28 government registered blood banks, of which the blood banks of Victoria Hospital, Vani Vilas Hospital and M.S. Ramiah Hospital confirmed the availability of fourth generation ELISA test kits.
Dr Manjula of Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, which has Bangalore Blood Bank, said, “So far, we do not have ELISA test in our hospital. However, we are planning to have it soon.”
As per a report by the Medical News Today, a fourth generation HIV test can detect both HIV antibodies and p24 antigens, which helps in the quicker identification of the virus antigen p24 even before the immune system starts producing antibodies, as compared to the older versions which only checked for antibodies. Even though other available HIV testing kits are rapid and self testing, they are not accurate. However, a fourth generation ELISA test kit can reliably detect the virus as early as one month after a person contacts it.
Dr. Shreelata, head of the blood bank at Victoria Hospital told The Softcopy that even though the technology is there, there is no awareness about it. She said, “We have a space for new technology, yet we don’t have awareness. We have started using these kits frompast six months, foradvanced and early detection of HIV, yet no awareness programme or campaign has been launched so far.”
“In Victoria Hospital, we have 150-200 patients coming every week, for giving blood or getting tested. And we always ensure to use fourth generation ELISA Test as the standard procedure for testing HIV,” Dr. Shreelata added.
ELISA is an enzyme-based antibody test for the detection of antigen in the body. ELISA 4A test kit is a fourth-generation ELISA Kit, which is used for the detection of HIV. It includes pre-coated plates with capture/detection antibodies, standards, buffers and accessory reagents.
It also reduces the window period for the detection of HIV.
Apart from ELISA, Western Blot and Rapid Assay are the other two tests which are used for the detection of HIV. However, the drawbacks of the other two are that Rapid Assay has high chances of variability and insensitivity, whereas Western Blot requires skilled and practiced professionals to conduct the test.
Shantanu, a lab technician of Grace Blood Bank told The Softcopy that their blood bank doesn’t do ELISA test for the detection of HIV. He said, “We are instead doing simple assay for testing HIV. We don’t find the need to have such an expensive test since the results of both the tests are same.”
A technician of Bangalore Medical Service trust, said, “We agree that ELISA is a good measure for detecting HIV, but most of us are still using the old tests, which we find convenient.”
Tabassum, a patient who visited Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital to get her blood tested, said, “I was not even aware of the new technology for detecting HIV. If there is the availability of new technology, then the doctor should inform the patients regarding this.”
Shweta, a trans-woman, who lives in Vijaynagar, said, “There is a dire need of launching an awareness programme, especially in our community. However, we are being neglected when it comes to introducing new technologies related to the detection of HIV and AIDS. If we have new technology for testing HIV, then it should be introduced in every hospital.” The fourth generation HIV tests have already been introduced in Maharashtra and Kerala, in 2015 and 2018 respectively.