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The retroviruses HIV-1 and HIV-2 are known to be causative agents of the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Both retroviruses are transmitted mainly through sexual intercourse or through contact with blood and blood products as well as diaplacentally from pregnant women to their babies.
More than 90 % of infected individuals develop antibodies to different proteins of HIV within a period of 3 to 6 weeks after infection. A short viraemic phase precedes seroconversion, in which p24 antigen is detectable by highly sensitive assays. From that point of time genomically integrated viral DNA can also be detected in mononuclear blood cells by polymerase chain reaction.
However, the method of choice for screening of HIV infections is the detection of antibodies to HIV by enzyme immunoassay.
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