Repeat Western Blot Testing After Receiving an HIV Diagnosis and Its Association with Engagement in Care

Wayne A Duffus*, 1, 2, Kristina W Kintziger3, James D Heffelfinger4, Kevin P Delaney4, Terri Stephens1, James J Gibson1
1 South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Bureau of Disease Control, 1751 Calhoun Street, Columbia, SC 29201, USA
2 University of South Carolina School Of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Two Medical Park, Columbia, SC 29203, USA
3 College of Graduate Studies, Georgia Health Sciences University, 1120 15th Street, Augusta, GA 30912, USA
4 Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA

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© Duffus et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Bureau of Disease Control, HIV/STD Division, 1751 Calhoun Street, Columbia, SC 29201, USA; Tel: (803) 898 – 0691; Fax: (803) 898 – 2124; E-mail:



To examine the prevalence of and factors associated with potentially unnecessary repeat confirmatory testing after initial HIV diagnosis and the relationship of repeat testing to medical care engagement.


South Carolina HIV/AIDS surveillance data for 12,504 individuals who were newly diagnosed with HIV infection between January 1997 and December 2008 were used for this analysis. State law requires that all positive Western blot [WB] results be reported regardless of frequency.


HIV-infected persons, diagnosed from 1997-2008 and followed through 2009, with repeat positive WB results were compared to those who did not have repeat positive WB results. We defined repeat positive testing as documentation of one or more positive WB obtained ≥90 days following initial WB confirmatory result. HIV care engagement for the period from 2007-2009 was assessed by documentation of CD4+ T-cell/viral load reports to the South Carolina HIV/AIDS surveillance system during each six-month period of a calendar year for those individuals diagnosed prior to the assessment period and still alive at the end. Relative risk [RR] with 95% confidence intervals [CI] and multivariable general linear models were used to assess if any covariates of interest were independently associated with repeat positive confirmatory testing.


A total of 4,237 [34%] of 12,504 HIV-infected individuals had results of repeat positive WB testing reported to the surveillance system during 1997-2008. Persons who had repeat positive WB testing were more likely than persons who did not have repeat WB testing to have progressed to AIDS >1 year following diagnosis [RR: 1.70; 95% CI: 1.61, 1.80] and to be consistently in care [RR: 1.35; 95% CI: 1.24, 1.47] or have sporadic care [RR: 1.80; 95% CI: 1.68, 1.94].


Having repeat positive WB tests may be a marker of engaging HIV care. However, given the limited resources available for care, it is important that healthcare reform policy and clinical recommendations promote improvements in communications about previous test results.

Keywords:: HIV testing algorithm, repeat positive testing, care engagement, duplicate tests, healthcare reform..