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Jan 31, 2002

Hello Ryan. On 10-14-01, a person on this forum claimed that he (or she) was getting his blood tested for HIV over the course of 5 months by a Lab called Quest. He said his doctor called Quest Labs and learned that they were utilizing first generation ELISA tests.

I think there was a misunderstanding here between the doctor/patient or doctor/lab. So I went ahead and emailed Quest Labs with this concern including the 10-14-01 Q&A link. Here is the response I received:

Dear Mr. -------

Thank you for this very good question.

The statement that Quest Diagnostics performs only first generation HIV-1 antibody testing by ELISA is incorrect. Our laboratories use third generation ELISA methods to screen for HIV-1 antibodies and have been using them for years. These procedures detect antibodies against all subtypes of HIV-1 and have been cleared by the Federal Drug Adminstration (FDA) to screen blood donors because of their very high sensitivity.

Sensitivity of HIV-1 ELISA methods for antibodies to HIV-2 virus are variable. For that reason, Quest Diagnostics also offers an ELISA antibody screen that covers both HIV-1 and HIV-2 viruses, as well as a screening test for HIV-2 virus alone. HIV-2 is a relative rare in the US, but should be considered in areas with large immigrant populations and in people with history of travel to areas of high HIV-2 prevalence, such as Western Africa.

Quest Diagnostics offers the most extensive menu of laboratory tests related to HIV infection and AIDS. The technology in use is state of the art. For more information, please visit our web site at

Sincerely Yours,

Samuel B. Reichberg, M.D., Ph.D. Corporate Clinical Pathologist Quest Diagnostics One Malcolm Avenue Teterboro, NJ 07608

If the person who posted this concern on 10-14 sees this, I hope he or she is now feeling at ease about his results. It certainly made me feel more comfortable as I wouldn't think there'd be a reason why a state health lab would not follow the same strict procedures.

Correct me if I'm wrong but wouldn't using an outdated blood test be a flagrant quality control violation? I would think it would but please clarify. Thanks Ryan!

Response from Mr. Kull

Thank you for the update.

It's difficult for me to comment on communication between doctor and patient and to guess as to what happened in that situation. It is important for patients to talk with their doctors and clarify any information that seems unusual or questionable. And as demonstrated in your case, communicating directly with the lab was very productive.

Hopefully your message will prove useful to anyone concerned about antibody tests performed through Quest Diganostics.


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