To determine whether donated blood samples in African countries could be pooled, then tested for the presence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibodies with a single test without loss of accuracy, a single test on five pooled samples was used, followed by individual testing of positive pools. This resulted in no loss of either sensitivity or specificity. Pooling 10 samples resulted in a loss of sensitivity for low antibody titre specimens. Pooling reduced the costs of screening by 70% and time needed for analysis. It is concluded that pooling of five samples for HIV screening may result in a substantial reduction in costs; in countries where the prevalence of HIV is higher than the 2-3% found in Zimbabwean donors, however, savings may not be as great.
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