Despite the boom in new HCV drugs, management of HCV infection is still challenging with improvements needed in diagnosis and testing. A new study has now established the sensitivity and specificity of a point-of-care HCV RNA test (via venepuncture and finger-stick capillary of whole-blood samples, Xpert HCV Viral Load test) compared with the current gold-standard HCV viral load assay (Abbott Realtime HCV). 150 participants across five sites in Australia underwent viral load testing via these three assays. Crucially, the researchers confirmed that active HCV infection can be detected from a finger-prick sample with high specificity (95.5%) and sensitivity (98.1%), and that the Xpert tests had strong agreement with the current gold-standard HCV RNA test. Validation studies are needed to evaluate this assay in different settings and HCV populations (for example, HCV–HIV coinfection).
Grebely, J. et al. Evaluation of the Xpert HCV Viral Load point-of-care assay from venepuncture-collected and finger-stick capillary whole-blood samples: a cohort study. Lancet Gastroenterol. Hepatol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2468-1253(17)30075-4 (2017)
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Ray, K. A step closer to easy point-of-care testing for HCV?. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 14, 326 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrgastro.2017.64