PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles

Biochemistry - Biophysics - Immunology - Infectious Diseases - Molecular Biology - Urology - Virology

Impact of Collection Method on Assessment of Semen HIV RNA Viral Load
Published: Friday, August 19, 2011
Author: Brendan J. W. Osborne et al.

by Brendan J. W. Osborne, Prameet M. Sheth, Colin Kovacs, Tony Mazzulli, Rupert Kaul


The blood HIV RNA viral load is the best-defined predictor of HIV transmission, in part due to ease of measurement and the correlation of blood and genital tract (semen or cervico-vaginal) viral load, although recent studies found semen HIV RNA concentration to be a stronger predictor of HIV transmission. There is currently no standardized method for semen collection when measuring HIV RNA concentration. Therefore, we compared two collection techniques in order to study of the impact of antiretroviral therapy on the semen viral load.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Semen was collected by masturbation from HIV-infected, therapy-naïve men who have sex with men (MSM) either undiluted (Visit 1) or directly into transport medium (Visit 2). Seminal plasma was then isolated, and the HIV RNA concentration obtained with each collection technique was measured and corrected for dilution if necessary. Collection of semen directly into transport medium resulted in a median HIV RNA viral load that was 0.4 log10 higher than undiluted samples.


The method of semen collection is an important consideration when quantifying the HIV RNA viral load in this compartment.