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Appointment availability at all UNG Testing Centers varies by campus location. Our testing center staff are following strict cleaning regimens after each test admission session that includes disinfecting all items and surfaces that candidates encounter. Please review our testing center’s Procedures and FAQs prior to your scheduled appointment for information on what to expect during your visit. With safety measures in place, we are working together to ensure a clean and hygienic testing environment.

Mask Update: Individuals are not required to wear face coverings in the Testing Center. Face coverings are still permitted and may be inspected during check-in procedures.

Please be mindful: Testing staff may use latex free gloves when handling test materials. If you have an allergy that may impact your testing experience, please notify testing staff of your concern.

The mission of the Testing Center at the University of North Georgia (UNG) is to provide a professional testing environment for the campus and community that enables test takers to perform at their maximum ability and provide services to assist students, faculty, staff and the community in maintaining the university’s goal of academic excellence and leadership.  In order to provide professional standards in testing services that reflect positively on the university, the Testing Center maintains membership with and adheres to the National College Testing Association (NCTA) Professional Standards and Guidelines.

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Thu, 13 Aug 2020 22:30:00 -0500 en text/html https://ung.edu/testing/
Killexams : Avaya and Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise announce next partnership phase

COMPANY NEWS: American multinational technology company Avaya and Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise announced at Gitex Global last week the next phase of their partnership that will enable enterprises to innovate easier without the need for disruptive technology replacement initiatives.

The existing partnership sees Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) offer Avaya OneCloud CCaaS to its customers and Avaya offer ALE Digital Age Networking solution to its clients. According to Avaya, the integration key for both the companies’ customers to innovate using an expanding, rich, and complementary set of capabilities from either—and painlessly roll them out.

“Our common objective is to support our customers in their digital transformation, providing all capabilities needed to make everything connect. Looking to the future, we are collaborating to deliver new value and services to our respective customers thanks to the tailored vertical solutions we are building together,” said Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise executive vice president global sales, services, and marketing Rukmini Glanard.

“Our customers want innovation, but they want that innovation to come over the top of their IT infrastructures – typically over the cloud. They don’t want any costly or time-consuming disruption underneath. Through the integration of our technology with ALE’s, and through the strength of our collective global customer base, we’re in a unique position to provide that innovation without disruption,” added Avaya president Nidal Abou-Ltaif.

Avaya’s presence at Gitex Global comes in partnership with Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, Uniphore, Verint Systems, GS Lab, Imperium, Konnect Insights, LumenVox, Nectar, Sestek and Topaz Visit Avaya at its stand in Zabeel Hall, at Dubai World Trade Centre until 14 October 2022.

This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 10 October 2022.

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Mon, 10 Oct 2022 21:14:00 -0500 en-gb text/html https://itwire.com/guest-articles/company-news/avaya-and-alcatel-lucent-enterprise-announce-next-partnership-phase.html Killexams : Testing solutions

Martin Varga, Wireless and Custom Engineering Team Leader, Anritsu talks to Neil Tyler about the challenges associated with testing IoT devices.

Over the past few years intelligent connectivity has proliferated and the Internet of Things is seen as helping to accelerate the drive towards greater business insights boosted by the growing deployment of applications and the use of sensor-driven analytics.

Artificial intelligence models and edge computing architectures are being used across a wide group of sectors, linking IoT networks to the Cloud and providers such as Amazon Web Services and Azure are helping to reduce the cost of implementing edge-driven IoT.

The growth in users and the insights derived from the IoT are now extending into a whole new range of applications from the factory floor to better understanding and protecting the environment around us.

As this trend accelerates so companies will produce more IoT devices and, as they do so, they will need additional tools to test them. The growing impact of 5G on IoT technology is also expected to trigger an unprecedented growth in test & measurement.

When it comes to the IoT, network connectivity comprises of four core layers: the physical layer (sensors and controllers); network layer (gateways and communication units); data management layer (local or cloud services at the backend), and the application layer (software for user interaction), so it’ll be critical for devices to be able to exchange sensitive information easily before entering the market, so testing tools will be required to spot any defect in IoT devices. 

So, IoT testing is vital if companies are to validate the performance, reduce the security issues, and boost the functionality of their IoT devices.

The complexity and variability of IoT testing makes planning crucial when it comes to testing and a thorough testing process is recommended to ensure a quality IoT product and high customer satisfaction.

So, what are the issues confronting companies when it comes to IoT testing – is it the number of IoT platforms, the communications protocols, or security?

Addressing the testing issues

According to Martin Varga, Wireless and Custom Engineering Team Leader, Anritsu, “The IoT itself brings not just one communication technology but multiple technologies such as cellular (LTE, 5G) and short- range wireless technologies (WLAN, Bluetooth). Naturally, an IoT device must support both in order to provide various services and hence the major challenge when it comes to IoT testing is to test various aspects of each communication technology.

“Besides multiple communication technologies there is also the challenge of testing various layers in an IoT device. Where testing is focused on the physical layer of communication technology the aim is to ensure trouble-free connectivity; application layer testing is important to identify issues around the user-experience or to correct the functionality of services which IoT devices offer,” explained Varga.

When it comes to testing developers often think IoT technologies are already mature and are designed to provide trouble-free connectivity and communication.

According to Varga, while that may be true, “Each IoT device will have a unique design and deploy components differently. These will naturally influence each other and may also interfere with each other, so unless the IoT device is properly tested, you will never know how the design and the components used in a device work whatever the maturity of the technology.”

Varga also made the point that many developers think that testing is complicated, complex and expensive which he suggested was not the case.

“There are plenty of test and measurement systems that are able to provide easy, effective and cost balanced solutions which at the end of the day will save costs in the IoT device design process.”

There are certainly a wide range of issues that need to be considered when it comes to testing for the IoT, from RF design testing under specified conditions to performance measurements, such as power consumption and battery life, as well as compliance with applicable regulatory standards and operator-specific requirements before wireless devices can enter the market.

So, what makes for a good IoT test strategy?

“Simply put, a good IoT test strategy is just to have one,” Varga suggested. “That means you need to implement concrete testing and measurement in each phase of the IoT device’s design and development cycle. To develop an IoT device without any testing and measurement during the development cycle may result in costly mistakes with a device that does not work as expected or one that provides only partial or no service to the end user.”

Varga also made the point that it is important to differentiate between development IoT testing and production testing.

“The key difference is in the speed of measurement. IoT testing in the development phase usually requires full simulation of the network and involves the protocol stack for signalling which requires time to establish communication links for measurement.

“Manufacturing testing ensures products are of the highest quality, but this requires fast and accurate measurement hence production line testing does not involve protocol stack and signalling to establish an active communication link between IoT devices and the test instrument.

“Production line test works purely in the non-signalling mode where devices either transmit certain waveform signals and the test instrument measures it, or the test instrument transmits certain waveform signals and the IoT device measures the received signal.”

IoT test equipment can be categorised as cellular test equipment supporting cellular technologies like 5G, 4G, 3G and 2G and short range wireless equipment that supports technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, explained Varga.

“This type of equipment usually serves as a network or device simulator to test the IoT device to correct measurement states using protocol stack signalling and perform measurements.

“Such an operation naturally requires the setting of various parameters which makes measurement more complex, however on the other side measurements are done in real life conditions making sure that IoT devices will work correctly in commercial deployment and use. Another type of test equipment is focused on non-signalling testing where only the physical layer is tested without engagement with the higher layers of the protocol or application. Such measurements deliver less complex parametrisation and fast speed of measurements, although they are measuring only a limited part of the whole IoT device and so could leave some nasty surprises in terms of performance and operation once the IoT device is deployed and is use,” Varga warned.

The best types of IoT test equipment should offer multiple measurement types such as RF or/and application type measurements, according to Varga.

“It also should offer enough accuracy and quality in signal generation and analyses to accurately measure the performance of an IoT device,” said Varga. “Easy parametrisation and intuitive operation are also important factors. IoT test equipment needs to offer effective simulation and measurement capabilities where the developer has an environment under full control, which will enable them to verify and measure expected behaviour and performance through the whole development cycle so there are no delays caused by having to re-design or fix design faults.

“Pre-compliance testing before going to full certification will save time and money and accelerate the commercial launch of an IoT device.”

According to Varga, set up time is important in production line testing where speed of measurement is critical as well as capacity, due to the high number of devices that will be manufactured. He suggested that allowing parallel testing of multiple devices simultaneously would increase capacity and overall production line volume.

“Anritsu is able to offer multi-technology high volume production line test solutions allowing parallel testing of multiple devices with high levels of accuracy, but we are also able to offer other test and measurement solutions for cellular and short range wireless IoT devices, whether used in prototyping, design or development.

“Our solutions come with unique functions and are both easy and quick to set up, delivering effective and complex measurements.”

Critically, it’s important that companies like Anritsu understand the needs of engineers and developers who perform or require various types of measurement.

“The technology itself, whether it is cellular or short-range wireless, brings a certain level of complexity in terms of the measurement environment setup. Therefore, engineers need test equipment that is easy, intuitive, and provides a stable measurement setup to bridge the complexity of the technology and to deliver better and more understandable test results.

“While Anritsu is a test and measurement company it is also, and has to be, a partner for all its customers.”

Mon, 10 Oct 2022 23:02:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.newelectronics.co.uk/content/features/testing-solutions
Killexams : Testing Chips For Security

Supply chains and manufacturing processes are becoming increasingly diverse, making it much harder to validate the security in complex chips. To make matters worse, it can be challenging to justify the time and expense to do so, and there’s little agreement on the ideal metrics and processes involved.

Still, this is particularly important as chip architectures evolve from a single chip developed by one vendor to a collection of chips in a package from multiple vendors. The ability to identify security risks early in the design flow can save time, effort, and money on the back end of the flow. And in theory, this should be the same as any other test or debug process. But hardware quality, reliability, and security have very different track records in terms of testing.

“We’ve done tests for quality for the past 50 years,” said Mark Tehranipoor, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at the University of Florida. “We’ve done tests for reliability for the past 25 years. And now we’re talking about tests for security.”

One of the key challenges on the security side is clarifying exactly what you’re testing for. While a chip may have been manufactured to detailed specifications, its security has to be assessed through the mindset of a smart and determined attacker rather than through predictable metrics.

“You have to think about the intelligence of an adversary,” Tehranipoor said, he said. “We can model a defect, but it’s extremely hard to model an intent. That’s where security becomes difficult to test for.”

No matter how many best practices are applied during the design phase, the real world often presents security challenges that are hard to anticipate. “Once you’re out in the field, all bets are off,” said Adam Cron, distinguished architect at Synopsys. “You’re at the whims of any hacker around the world and what his best practices are, and what the new thing is coming down the line.”

Tehranipoor and Cron are two of the authors of a accurate paper examining these issues, “Quantifiable Assurance: From IPs to Platforms.” The paper lists more than 20 different metrics for different aspects of security, which points to the complexity of the challenge. “Generally, measuring security is still at a nascent place,” Cron said. “All companies are just getting off the ground from a measurement standpoint for security in particular.”

Finding consensus around those metrics won’t be easy. “Over the past several years, the [hardware security] community has been talking about developing metrics, but we’re not quite there yet, and we’re not going to be there any time soon,” Tehranipoor said. “Why? Because by the time we figure out a good metric for some attacks, a new attack comes in, and we’re behind again.”

Agreeing on metrics
Just about any security metric could be rendered irrelevant by the right attack. A hypothetical device certified for high security could be breached by a highly intelligent adversary who happened to spot something others hadn’t. “If we all missed looking at it from the angle that this particular attacker looked it – we thought it was a really good, secure device, but this guy showed up and he looked at it in a certain way that we all missed – then suddenly, there’s an easy attack,” Tehranipoor said.

Texplained CTO and founder Olivier Thomas said any testing of IC security has to consider three classes of attacks – non-invasive, semi-invasive, and fully invasive. But testing for the latter often falls short. “Testing the first two classes is usually done pretty well, as this does not require too much equipment, resources, and time. But when it comes to the fully invasive class, the evaluations, if conducted, are really far from what pirates or organized groups are capable of,” he said.

Moreover, the wide range of ways any chip can be attacked presents a fundamental challenge. “I have to think about whether this chip is going to leak information through the pin, through the software, through the firmware, through the JTAG, or can it deliver it to me through power, or EM, or timing, or optical, or laser,” said Tehranipoor. “There are so many ways, and there is no single metric for all of them, because laser is fundamentally different than power, power is fundamentally different than EM. So how many different metrics are we going to have?”

Still, Cron said, there is a real push for a ratings system for consumer products as well as high-security solutions. This is akin to a UL listing for consumer appliances, likely with a date stamp to indicate how up to date a chip’s security is. “You’ll know that, at the time it was checked, you achieved a certain level, and there won’t be infinite levels,” he said. “But if you buy that same product and it’s been sitting on the shelf for two years, you have to ask yourself, ‘Is it still good?’”

A range of approaches
In the meantime, there are several ways to get a sense of a chip’s security. One involves Joint Interpretation Library (JIL) scoring. “JIL scoring tells you how ‘expensive’ it is to initially figure out an attack (identification), and how expensive it is to subsequently do the attack (exploitation),” said Maarten Bron, managing director at Riscure. “This method was initially developed for expressing the security of smart cards (bank cards, public transit cards, SIM cards), and has recently gained wider traction in the domain of MCUs and SoCs.”

Cron noted that NIST has standards for certifying encryption or cryptographic IP, and Synopsys’ RTL Architect can look at differential power analysis. “But there’s still no metric per se,” he said. “Those tools are giving you areas where you should look. But whether or not you do look, or whether or not, while you look, you detect the thing that the hacker is going to be looking at, as well, who’s to say?”

Scott Best, senior director of security products at Rambus, said that while each individual chip manufacturer approaches this with the best of intentions, they all do things differently. “There is no one standard adopted for industrywide practice commercially,” he said. “In U.S. Defense, there are some early-stage guidelines coming together for Microelectronic Quantified Assurance (MQA), for example as part of the RAMP program.”

The diverse range of evaluation methods in use today, according to Texplained’s Thomas, includes analysis by researchers who publish at conferences and online, independent analysis requested by OEMs and integrators seeking more information than that offered by vendors, and Common Criteria security evaluations that only focus on some types of attacks “and therefore are not fully exhaustive.”

But that hasn’t diminished the need for this kind of standardization. “There are two broad key business drivers here,” said Jason Oberg, CTO at Cycuity. “One is obviously standardization. It’s very clear that if you can check a box, someone is more likely to buy. If you sell in a certain market, and if you have to do it, that’s what’s standardization can help drive. The other component is really driven by customer demand for, ‘I want a secure product.’ Or maybe they’ve had that crisis where it actually happened to them. And if you think about defining the systematic process when you have security requirements that are defined up front, part of those security requirements are actually driven by standards.”

Shifting left
This is why there is an increasing amount of focus on security earlier in designs, and testing as early as possible is always better, as with any other portion of the chip design process. It improves efficiency and minimizes cost.

“Catch the security problem earlier and it’s going to cost you 10 times less,” Tehranipoor said. “Go left. Don’t do it post-silicon if you can do it at layout level. Don’t do it at the layout level if you can do it at gate level. Don’t do it at gate level if you can do it at the RTL level.”

Performing security validation pre-silicon allows for far faster remediation of any issues that may come up, and is increasingly becoming an expected part of the process. “At some point, having a simulation-driven pre-silicon security signoff process will become table stakes for makers of security chips,” said Riscure’s Bron. “Put differently, I can see this becoming a competitive disadvantage for those companies that don’t.”

Lang Lin, Ansys principal product manager, noted that testing virtually has other benefits, as well. “In simulation, you don’t have the noisy environment faced by the post-silicon chip,” he said. “You’re living in a digital world, a virtual world, so you can clearly see where the leakage path is from simulation, which might not be that clear in silicon.”

However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that from a security point of view, a design and its implementation are two very different things. “A cryptographic algorithm can be secure on paper (the ‘design’), yet the implementation of it can deliver rise to side-channel leakage that renders the overall product insecure,” Bron said. “What I like about the notion of pre-silicon security is that it allows developers to design security into their design, design vulnerabilities out of their design, and to see how this security carries over into the implementation of the design.”

Anticipating complex environments
Complexity always has been a big challenge for security experts, and it becomes even more difficult to safeguard a chip if it’s being included in a heterogeneous design with multiple components that are not developed by the same company. That makes testing all the more important, and how that testing is done can make a big difference.

Chips ideally should be tested in a worst-case scenario, with all countermeasures disabled — “without redundancy, without security measures and so on, so the chip is operated in the worst condition for security and we see the pure hardware security features,” said Peter Laackmann, distinguished engineer for the Connected Secure Systems (CSS) Division at Infineon. “This means if you bring the chip into another environment, then the situation should not get worse.”

Still, complex environments can introduce vulnerabilities in other ways. For example, consider a crypto wallet that’s breached despite the presence of a security chip, because that security chip happens to be controlled by a standard microcontroller. “With electrical glitches on the standard microcontroller, hardware wallets were successfully broken, although they have security chips certified according to Common Criteria inside which were not harmed at all,” Laackman said.

Robert Ruiz, director of product marketing at Synopsys, said utilizing PCIe or USB ports to test for defects can introduce vulnerabilities as well. “That technique itself kind of opens up the chip, if not the whole system, to hack, because you’re basically giving hackers entry points into the system through a standard plug-in port… so these new techniques, they’re improving efficiency on design and manufacturing, yet they may actually open up the door a bit,” he said.

Ongoing validation
Testing chips, both on their own and as part of package, is essential. “A die should always be tested in isolation first, and chip makers are doing this,” said Bron. “The testing of all components ‘together’ is what evaluation methods like Common Criteria tackle very well, and we see chipmakers that understand these evaluation processes well enough to be able to derive benefit from this during chip design/package design.”

At the same time, nothing done pre-silicon eliminates the need for validation after the fact. “You would not just build a vehicle without computing the needed functions and the needed safety, and just testing it afterwards,” Laackmann said. “So testing is always mandatory for hardware, and for software, and also in combination. But you can spare some time, and make your results more reliable if you have pre-silicon tests in advance.”

Testing engineering samples or final commercial samples can offer significant benefits, even if it’s too late to fix some potential issues. “Some security vulnerabilities that are discovered this way can be (partly) mitigated in firmware still,” Bron said. “Others cannot, and these are typically learning opportunities to make the next generation of chips more secure.”

Increasing demand for security
Interest in security is trending upward, driven by customers with greater security concerns for everything from smart cards to automotive applications. “The priority is based on the application,” Ansys’ Lin said. “For applications with secret data, with confidential data, of course, security is prioritized higher than the other metrics.”

In the future, it will be possible to test for specific security concerns that are most important for a specific application or user. “You’ll say, ‘My application is this,’ Tehranipoor said. “And the tool automatically will be intelligent enough to say, ‘Okay, got it – I’m going to choose x, y, and z, I’m going to optimize it for you for that – and I’m going to deliver you a report based on that optimization.”

That kind of specificity is essential for security, which can’t be pinned down to a straightforward, universal metric. “And we’re going to get there,” he said. “We’re not there yet. But we will get there.”

Related
Semiconductor Security Knowledge Center
Security Risks Widen With Commercial Chiplets
Choosing components from a multi-vendor menu holds huge promise for reducing costs and time-to-market, but it’s not as simple as it sounds.
Chip Backdoors: Assessing The Threat
Steps are being taken to minimize problems, but they will take years to implement.
Why It’s So Difficult — And Costly — To Secure Chips
Threats are growing and widening, but what is considered sufficient can vary greatly by application or by user. Even then, it may not be enough.


Wed, 05 Oct 2022 12:00:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://semiengineering.com/testing-chips-for-security/
Killexams : Alcatel Lucent Teletas Telekomunikasyon AS (ALCTL)

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Killexams : The ‘Age of P.C.R. Prosperity’? China’s Covid-Testing Strategy Comes Under Strain. No result found, try new keyword!By testing every citizen several times a week, the authorities hoped to isolate cases more quickly and avoid future crippling lockdowns. But in accurate months that approach has failed to slow some ... Wed, 12 Oct 2022 08:07:00 -0500 text/html https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/12/business/china-covid-testing.html Killexams : What is the window period for HIV testing?

Key points

  • This page gives information on how soon HIV can be detected by a blood test and when you can be confident in the result.
  • The window period of modern laboratory HIV tests is 45 days.
  • The window period of rapid, point-of-care tests and self-tests is 90 days.

The window period refers to the time after infection and before seroconversion, during which markers of infection (p24 antigen and antibodies) are still absent or too scarce to be detectable. Tests cannot always detect HIV infection during the window period.

All tests have a window period, which varies from test to test. It also depends on the specimen that is being tested: window periods are usually reported based on a sample of blood plasma, but are longer when the specimen tested is fingerprick blood or oral fluid.

(Plasma is the colourless fluid part of blood, separated from whole blood using laboratory equipment. Fingerprick blood is produced by pricking the finger with a lancet, whereas oral fluid is obtained by swabbing the gums.)

There are two key questions to ask about a specific HIV test: 

  • How soon after someone is exposed to HIV can the test detect whether they have HIV? (Some, but not all, infections may be detected at this stage).
  • How soon after exposure to HIV can an individual be confident that a negative test indicates they do not have HIV? 

The information given in UK testing guidelines about window periods is based on answers to the second question – specifically, how long after exposure to HIV 99% of infections will be detected by a specific type of test. At this stage, it is highly likely that a negative result is accurate.

How long are the window periods of different HIV tests?

It is hard to say exactly how long the window period lasts, as there are variations between individuals and it is a difficult course to research (recently infected people would need to know exactly when they were exposed to HIV and then deliver multiple blood samples over the following days and weeks).

Nonetheless, a study by Dr Kevin Delaney and colleagues calculated window periods for a range of HIV testing assays. All these analyses were based on plasma samples. Window periods are likely to be several days longer when testing samples of fingerprick blood or of oral fluid, as will be normal when using rapid, point-of-care tests and self-testing devices. Unfortunately, precise figures for how much longer the window periods are have not yet been published.

NAM aidsmap's Matthew Hodson explains about window periods for HIV testing.

The researchers’ analysis confirms that fourth-generation laboratory tests (which detect both antibodies and p24 antigen) detect HIV infections between one and three weeks earlier than older antibody-only tests. Moreover, their data suggest that some countries’ guidelines which recommend retesting 90 days after a possible exposure to HIV are more cautious than they need to be.

A fourth-generation laboratory test is recommended in UK and US guidelines. It uses a sample of blood plasma or serum and can detect immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies, immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies and p24 viral antigen (a protein contained in HIV's viral core that can be detected sooner than antibodies). Commonly used tests of this type include Abbott Architect HIV Ag/Ab, GS Combo Ag/Ab EIA and Siemens Combo HIV Ag-Ab.

  • The median window period is 18 days (interquartile range 13 to 24 days). This indicates that half of all infections would be detected between 13 and 24 days after exposure.
  • 99% of HIV-infected individuals would be detectable within 44 days of exposure.

UK guidelines state that 45 days is the window period for fourth-generation laboratory tests.

A fourth-generation rapid test is available (Determine HIV Early Detect or Determine HIV-1/2). While results for this assay when testing plasma were broadly similar to those of equivalent laboratory tests, the window period is likely to be several days longer when testing fingerprick blood, as the test is normally used.

A few third-generation rapid, point-of-care tests are available. They can detect immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies and immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies. Examples include the INSTI HIV-1/HIV-2 and Uni-Gold Recombigen HIV tests. The estimated window period for INSTI when testing plasma are as follows:

  • The median window period is 26 days (interquartile range 22 to 31 days). This indicates that half of all infections would be detected between 22 and 31 days after exposure.
  • 99% of HIV-infected individuals would be detectable within 50 days of exposure.

However, those estimates were based on testing plasma. In practice, tests are usually done on fingerprick blood and the window period is likely to be several days longer.

UK guidelines state that 90 days is the window period for all rapid, point-of-care tests.

Third-generation laboratory tests are no longer recommended for use. They can detect immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies and immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies, but not p24 viral antigen. Their window periods are similar to those of the INSTI third generation rapid test (plasma samples), but a little shorter (median 23 days).

UK guidelines state that 60 days is the window period for third-generation laboratory tests.

Many rapid, point-of-care tests are described as second generation. They can detect immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies, but not immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies or p24 viral antigen. As these two substances are detectable sooner after HIV infection than IgG antibodies, second-generation tests have longer window periods. Examples include OraQuick Advance Rapid HIV 1/2, Clearview HIV 1/2 STAT-PACK and SURE CHECK HIV 1/2.

  • The median window period is 31 days (interquartile range 26 to 37 days). This indicates that half of all infections would be detected between 26 and 37 days after exposure.
  • 99% of HIV-infected individuals would be detectable within 57 days of exposure.

However, those estimates were based on testing plasma. In practice, tests are usually done on fingerprick blood or oral fluid and the window period is likely to be several days longer.

UK guidelines state that 90 days is the window period for all rapid, point-of-care tests.

Glossary

window period

In HIV testing, the period of time after infection and before seroconversion during which markers of infection are still absent or too scarce to be detectable. All tests have a window period, the length of which depends on the marker of infection (HIV RNA, p24 antigen or HIV antibodies) and the specific test used. During the window period, a person can have a negative result on an HIV test despite having HIV.

antibody

A protein substance (immunoglobulin) produced by the immune system in response to a foreign organism. Many diagnostic tests for HIV detect the presence of antibodies to HIV in blood.

plasma

The fluid portion of the blood.

immunoglobulin

Another name for antibodies. An antibody is a protein substance produced by the immune system in response to a foreign organism (such as bacteria, virus or parasite).

point-of-care test

A test in which all stages, including practicing the result, can be conducted in a doctor’s office or a community setting, without specialised laboratory equipment. Sometimes also described as a rapid test.

No self-testing devices were included in this study. However, most self-tests are modified versions of rapid, point-of-care test kits that were originally designed for healthcare professionals. Most are based on second- generation tests, so are likely to have relatively long window periods. A few, including the INSTI HIV Self Test, are based on a third-generation test.

Similarly, self-sampling was not included. In the UK, this usually involve the user sending a sample of fingerprick blood to be tested in a laboratory with a fourth-generation antibody/antigen test. Plasma is extracted from the sample using centrifugation. In theory, the test will be as accurate with plasma from a self-collected sample of fingerprick blood as from venous blood, including in relation to acute (recent) infection.

Are these figures always accurate?

In some situations, these figures should be interpreted with caution:

  • When tests are done with samples of fingerprick blood or oral fluid (rather than blood plasma), their window periods are likely to be longer.
  • Individuals who are taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) or post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) may have a delayed antibody response, extending the window period. 
  • The data are based on individuals with HIV-1 subtype B (the form of HIV most commonly found in Western countries) and it’s possible that tests are less sensitive to other subtypes.
Mon, 14 Dec 2020 13:39:00 -0600 en text/html https://www.aidsmap.com/about-hiv/what-window-period-hiv-testing
Killexams : The Best DNA Testing Kits for 2022

Personal DNA testing is more popular now than ever before, as it can be done quickly in the comfort of your own home and at an affordable cost. Besides ancestry information, some DNA-testing services also include health-related reports. In other words, if you want to learn about your genetics, these testing kits are the way to go.

We looked at five services to evaluate their simplicity, relative-matching features, and the best overall DNA-testing experience. In addition to AncestryDNA (the genetics-focused arm of Ancestry) and the Editors' Choice award-winning 23andMe, we also evaluated HomeDNA, Living DNA, and MyHeritage DNA. Check out the write-ups below to discover the DNA kit that best suits your needs. 

DNA testing kits

(Credit: Getty Images)

You Can Trust Our Reviews

More About Our Picks

Best for Exploring DNA and Health Data

Bottom Line:

23andMe offers a trove of information about your genetics and deeper ancestry. This top DNA testing service also provides checks for genetic health risks and your carrier status for many conditions.

Pros

  • Thorough ancestry reports
  • Continually updated health reports
  • Reports on potential Neanderthal genetics
  • Fun and interesting interactive features

Cons

  • Health-related DNA testing doesn't provide a guaranteed vision of your future health

Best for Matching With Ancestors

Bottom Line:

AncestryDNA is an easy-to-use tool for exploring your background. If you have an Ancestry family tree, the service can even find relatives among the 5 million DNA profiles it has already collected.

Pros

  • Easy-to-understand, continually updated results
  • Free shipping
  • Numerous online resources

Cons

  • Overwhelming matching feature

Best for Finding Geographic Roots

Bottom Line:

Living DNA is an informative and affordable testing kit for tracing your ancestry back thousands of years. Unfortunately, it takes a long time to deliver genetic results.

Pros

  • Covers 150 worldwide regions
  • In-depth geographic reporting
  • Affordably priced

Cons

  • Constructing DNA profile can take between 10-12 weeks
  • Some features are temporarily hidden due to a platform update

Best for Tracing Migration Patterns

Bottom Line:

HomeDNA offers an extremely close look at where your ancestors lived, but it doesn't offer much else in the way of researching your past or understanding more about your genetics.

Pros

  • Simple sample extraction process
  • Free shipping available
  • Detailed look at your ancestors' migration patterns

Cons

  • Relatively expensive
  • Lacks supplemental information about researching your past and understanding DNA results
  • Doesn't update results as new research arises
  • African and Asian tracing are separate DNA test kits

Best for Building Family Trees

Bottom Line:

MyHeritage DNA offers a raw look at your genetic makeup, but it doesn't include any information to help you interpret the results or learn more about how your ancestors lived.

Pros

  • Easy to understand results
  • Included family tree software and research resources

Cons

  • Tricky sample collection process
  • It doesn't deliver any context to your results

How DNA Kits Work and What They Test

Each kit works similarly: You answer a few questions about yourself, order the kit, collect your sample, register it (this is very important), send it back, and wait for the results. That said, they differ in the collection process and, to a smaller extent, the cost of shipping. When we tested 23andMe back in mid-2015, the company could not accept DNA samples collected in or sent from New York State because of local laws (we had to cross the border to New Jersey). The company was also unable to ship DNA kits to Maryland.

The 23andMe shipping issues resulted in part because when the company first launched, it tested for a litany of health issues and genetic markers for disease, raising concerns from the FDA and state agencies. The company stepped back and has been working more closely with governmental agencies as it rolls out more features.

Those restrictive laws are no longer on the books, and 23andMe has expanded its portfolio of tests. Competitors have also started adding health and wellness tests to their offerings, as well. AncestryHealth and MyHeritage DNA offer reports on carrier status and genetic health risks. LivingDNA has a wellbeing kit that provides insight into diet and exercise. HomeDNA tests for a healthy weight, skincare, and food and pet sensitivity.


How to Use a DNA Testing Kit

HomeDNA has the most straightforward DNA extraction process; swab each cheek twice with a cotton swab, and place the swabs in the included envelope. Living DNA and MyHeritage DNA have similar approaches. 23andMe and AncestryDNA require that you spit into a tube up to the fill line (which is more challenging than it sounds), and ship it back with stabilization liquid. Most of the services said not to eat, drink, or smoke for 30 minutes to an hour before testing to get the best possible sample.

The most important part of this process is registering your kit before shipping it. All five services require this, and if you don't do it, you won't be able to access your results. This requirement is to protect your privacy—your name won't appear on the kit or the results—and to easily track your specimen as it goes through the process. Of course, when you sign up for an account with these services, your identity is connected to it, but the sample and any reports stored on the service's end will only have a unique barcode.

Some services cover shipping costs. AncestryDNA's $99 fee includes two-way shipping. 23andMe adds a two-way shipping fee of $9.95 for the first kit and $5 for each additional one. HomeDNA ships a prepaid envelope to return your sample and offers three shipping options: $7 for two-day shipping, $14 for overnight, and free shipping that takes 7 to 12 business days. Living DNA provides standard shipping for $9.95 (5-10 business days) and express shipping for $39.95 (2-3 business days). Finally, MyHeritage charges $12 for shipping, but if you order two kits, you pay $6. And if you order three or more kits, you get free shipping.

Once you've shipped your sample, it's waiting time. All of the DNA testing services we reviewed confirmed receipt of the specimen via email, and most estimated that the results would take anywhere from three to eight weeks to process.

Note that DNA testing isn't the only kind of kit that collects physical evidence from you these days. Ubiome is one noteworthy example. The service evaluates your microbiome—basically the bacteria that live in and on you. In our review, we took its gut biome test, which required our intrepid reviewer to send in a poop sample (insert poop emoji here).

In short, DNA testing potentially exposes a lot of information. Perhaps more than we think.


DNA Results and Family Tree Features

Next, you'll receive an email alert that your results are ready, and that's when the fun begins. Your results may not be as dramatic as those portrayed in TV ads, but you may find some surprises. One important note: Results are different depending on your sex assigned at birth. Women, who have the XX chromosome, can only trace back the maternal line. Men, having the XY chromosome, can track both the maternal and paternal lines, painting a complete picture. If you're a woman, it's worth asking your brother, if you have one, to take a test and share the results. 

AncestryDNA, 23andMe, HomeDNA, Living DNA, and MyHeritage DNA all provide reports of your ethnicity, some showing maps of where your ancestors lived, along with information about the particular countries and regions.

On all platforms we tested, you can initiate a search for relatives. The software continually searches for DNA matches as more people share their results. This feature may be useful if you're building a family tree or looking for relatives you've never met; otherwise, it may be more of a nuisance. You can opt-in or out at any time, and the DNA service doesn't share your contact information. Relatives can message you through the software, though. If you already use genealogy software, you may be able to obtain your results and upload them to your preferred program. Otherwise, AncestryDNA and others featured here have family tree software that you can easily link.

Recommended by Our Editors

23andMe started by testing for genetic markers of diseases and medical conditions before rolling that back in response to the governmental concerns. It has since added a slew of health-related features with approval from the FDA. The company offers two options: Health + Ancestry ($199) and Ancestry ($99). The Health + Ancestry plan includes testing for genetic health risks and carrier status, as well as reports on your genetic weight, hair loss, and other traits.

If you're the family-tree manager for the family and want to track DNA results for other family members, you can do so. In some cases, you may have to create a separate account for each kit that you're managing. You can also share your results as well with other members and connect family trees.

Again, be sure to read through the terms of service and any other agreements before proceeding. Don't agree to anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. You might consider watching the video below, too.


How We Test DNA Services

We evaluated each kit by ordering one, just like any customer would, and tracking how long it took to arrive at the lab and get processed. Then we compared the breadth and depth of the results to see what rose to the top. The whole process was a lot of fun, in part because of the anticipation of getting the results. Most of the kits warn that testing your DNA can lead to surprising—even life-changing—results. For example, there's the story of a woman who thought she was Irish, but her DNA test revealed(Opens in a new window) she was also European Jewish, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European. After diligent research, she discovered that her father, who had died years earlier, had been switched at birth with another child. Of course, there's also a good chance that you won't be surprised at all, but there's satisfaction in knowing for sure where your ancestors lived and how you came to be who you are.

Note that it's not just the human members of your family whose ancestry might interest you. The best dog DNA test kits can help you tell a Maltese from a mutt, and we've reviewed the top choices in that category.

Thu, 31 Dec 2020 11:36:00 -0600 en text/html https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-dna-testing-kits
Killexams : Best DNA Test for 2022: AncestryDNA vs. 23andMe and More

Imagine knowing all about your family's ancestry, getting a detailed report about your body's health and predispositions -- just from a simple at-home test. It's never been easier to get your hands on a personal DNA test and find out all about yourself. These easy-to-use tests can teach you all about your genetics, right from the comfort of your own couch. And there are plenty of reputable DNA tests to choose from. This article breaks down what each company offers with tests and memberships. 

Though it's a thorny and controversial topic, some tests also claim to reveal your "ethnicity." There are also DNA test services that can shed light on your genetic predisposition for diseases and physiological traits, ranging from your eye color to your tolerance for cilantro. 

While they used to cost about $1,000 back in the 2000s, you can now get a sophisticated DNA data analysis of your genetic makeup for a fraction of that price, thanks to trailblazers such as 23andMe and Ancestry, and upstarts like Living DNA

Now playing: Watch this: Here's how genetic genealogist CeCe Moore finds potential...

7:40

There are three types of DNA tests -- each with its own particular strengths, limitations and rationales.

  • An autosomal DNA test is the best investment for most beginners; it can identify relatives between five and seven generations back, across both maternal and paternal lines.
  • Only men can effectively use a Y-DNA test, which identifies male relatives on the paternal line reaching back 60,000 years. If you're looking to trace the history of your family's surname, this is the test to use.
  • Mitochondrial DNA testing, also known as mtDNA testing, can determine genetic relationships on a maternal line from up to 150,000 years ago; both men and women can take this type of test.

Each testing company will deliver you an analysis of your DNA test results. These results could include your geographical origin -- some claim to be able to pinpoint a specific country, town or even "tribe" -- as well as your genetic ancestry composition and your susceptibility to particular genetic diseases. We should note that these tests don't serve a diagnostic purpose. A doctor-administered genetic test and a follow-up with a genetic counselor is important if you think you have a genetic disease. No online testing company offering results from a saliva sample can substitute for a health test administered by your doctor. 

Certain companies will also serve up "matches" from their DNA databases, which will deliver you a head start on connecting with possible relatives and offer some degree of family-tree research support. AncestryDNA, for example, offers a subscription service that includes access to hundreds of databases containing birth, death and marriage announcements, census documents, newspaper archives and other historical records.

Some DNA companies sell tests designed for specific ethnicities or specialized kits that claim to shed light on your optimal skin care regimen or weight; others offer tests designed to identify the genetic makeup of your cat or dog. (Yes, you can get a dog DNA test.) The experts I spoke to were dubious of the efficacy and value of these tests, however, and recommended avoiding them.

Though there's no blood involved with modern DNA testing -- you either swab the inside of your cheek or fill a small test tube with your saliva -- there are plenty of reasons to be wary of the companies that sell these kits. Your success in DNA test genealogy is largely dependent on supplying highly personal information about yourself and your relatives, from your genetic data to your mother's maiden name (a traditional cornerstone of password security).

Concerns over data privacy and security are well-founded, and experts warn that regulation, especially in the US, lags far behind the technology. You should also know that some DNA testing companies may share data with pharmaceutical companies and law enforcement agencies. Bottom line: Think critically before volunteering information about your health history and familial connections to any DNA testing company or organization. 

Read more: In the Future, Not Even Your DNA Will be Sacred

DNA testing, and genealogy more broadly, involves a complicated mixture of genetics, probabilities and guesswork. The various DNA testing services use different labs, algorithms, equipment and criteria to analyze your genetic material. Although you should expect some degree of overlap between analyses from different companies, they may differ significantly. There's also an element of critical mass -- the larger the company's database, the larger the sample they use to analyze your results, and the more accurate your test result should be. 

We tried some of the top DNA testing services, assessing the breadth and depth of their offerings, methodologies, reputation and price. Take a look at our recommendations below.

23andMe

Founded in 2006, 23andMe is one of the pioneers of DNA testing for consumers. In 2017 it became the first such service to win the FDA's approval as a risk screener for diseases. It has become one of the most well-known DNA testing companies -- and well-funded, since taking in a $300 million stake from GlaxoSmithKline, which uses the company's customer data to research and design new drugs. Still, the company recently announced a round of layoffs, citing a slowdown in the DNA testing market likely caused by increasing concerns about privacy.

23andMe segments its analysis into three main categories -- health, ancestry and traits. The basic ancestry and traits test, which is now on sale for $99, includes an analysis of your genetic makeup including your regions of origin, maternal and paternal lineage and Neanderthal ancestry. Once you opt in, the company's match database -- which has more than 10 million profiles -- will identify and offer to connect you with people who share a DNA match with you.

The company's DNA health test, which is on sale for $199, adds information about your genetic predisposition for late-onset Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other diseases. The service also includes analysis of your carrier status as a potential genetic carrier for disorders like Cystic Fibrosis and Sickle Cell Anemia as well as indicators for lactose intolerance and other "wellness" issues. The Premium Membership bundle, currently on sale for $199 with the on-page instant coupon, provides priority lab processing, premium customer support and a personalized walkthrough of your results. 

I found 23andMe's website and mobile app very easy to navigate and brimming with interesting, comprehensible information about both my ancestry and health as well as the science of genetics and genealogy. The main dashboard offers intuitive links to exploring your ancestry, learning about the genetic risks for health conditions, building out a family tree and connecting with relatives. Among all of the DNA tests I tried, 23andMe delivered the best introduction to my accurate and ancient genealogy along with an analysis of my genetic health. The only real drawback is that it does not offer integrated access to historical documents.

23andMe does provide easy access to a full range of privacy preferences and consent options, however. (That noted, 23andMe's terms of service and privacy statement is among the most extensive, exceeding 20,000 words.) You can ask the company to store your saliva sample indefinitely for future testing or have them discard it. Having signed off when I first signed up, I subsequently changed my mind about giving the company permission to share my data with researchers outside of 23andMe, and was able to retract my consent with the click of a button.

Read more: Ancestry vs. 23andMe: Which DNA testing kit is best for tracing your family history?

Ian Knighton/CNET

Founded in Utah in the 1990s, Ancestry.com -- the parent company of AncestryDNA -- started out as a publishing and genealogy company. Since then, it has had a somewhat tumultuous corporate existence, having been bought, sold, publicly traded and then purchased by private equity groups.

The company's basic DNA kit service, currently on sale for $99, provides you with an "ethnicity estimate" derived from its proprietary sequencing techniques. It's noteworthy that the company's genetic testing, which is outsourced to Quest Diagnostics, is distinct from most other companies that use paternal Y chromosome and/or maternal mitochondrial DNA methodologies, and less is known about the particular criteria it uses. 

That noted, AncestryDNA says its database contains more than 18 million profiles, making it the largest of all of the DNA test kit services. The company also maintains a powerful tool for searching through hundreds of historical document databases -- but any substantive research will quickly bring you to a paywall. Ancestry's databases are further bolstered by its partnership with FamilySearch.org, a genealogical records site run by the Mormon church.

An entry-level membership, which provides access to more than 6 billion records in the US, costs $119 for six months or $25 per month, after a free two-week trial. The "World Explorer" membership, for $40 per month, broadens your access to the company's 27 billion international records, and the "All Access" tier, starting at $60 per month, includes unlimited access to Ancestry's historical and contemporary database of more than 15,000 newspapers and military records from around the world. 

AncestryDNA offers a personalized health report with "actionable insights," access to genetic counseling resources, an online tool to help you map your family's health over generations and a next-generation sequencing service for screening your genetic risk for heart disease, some cancers and blood disorders. Still, the results are not diagnostic -- though the test result must be approved by one of the company's physicians -- and the service does not have FDA approval. For now, 23andMe maintains the advantage when it comes to introductory DNA testing for health risks and genetic screening. But AncestryDNA's service is particularly well-suited for leveraging an introductory DNA analysis into deep historical research to build out a family tree.

AncestryDNA allows you to obtain your full DNA results profile and upload the raw data into other tools, and it provides reasonably good control over your privacy preferences, though the options are not as granular as others. 

Read more: What AncestryDNA taught me about DNA, privacy and the complex world of genetic testing

FamilyTreeDNA

Founded in 2000, FamilyTreeDNA offers a comprehensive suite of reports and interactive tools to analyze your DNA and build a family tree. With a credible claim to "the world's most comprehensive DNA matching database," FamilyTreeDNA offers all three types of tests -- autosomal DNA, Y-DNA and mtDNA. And it's the sole company to own and operate its own testing facility: The Gene-by-Gene genetic lab, located in Houston.

The company's entry-level "family ancestry" package usually costs $79, though its testing kit is currently on sale for less. The test results provide information about your ethnic and geographic origins, identifies potential relatives and offers access to the company's massive DNA database. I paid $275 for a broad DNA test that included analysis of my mtDNA and Y-DNA -- tests that currently cost $139 and $99, respectively, when you buy them individually -- as well as the "Family Finder," the company's $49 autosomal test.

Though the user interface is a bit more complicated than what you'll find on other sites, FamilyTreeDNA provides the most complete suite of introductory tools of any provider I tested. For each type of test, you are presented with matches -- I got more than 22,000 for my autosomal DNA test -- a chromosome browser, migration maps, haplogroups and connections to ancestral reference populations, information about mutations and a link that allows you to obtain your raw data. Suffice to say, there are numerous threads to pull on to learn about yourself, your family and your health. 

FamilyTree also offers a number of higher-end tests, for those interested in digging deeper, including a range of Y-DNA tests that will trace the path of your male ancestors and the history of your surname. The company also allows you to upload raw DNA data files from other services and transfer your autosomal information to its database to expand your universe of matches and relationships. 

From a data security and privacy perspective, there are several things I find appealing about FamilyTreeDNA. The company does its own DNA testing in house, processing and storing your sample in its lab. Posted prominently on the front page of its website is a promise that the company will never sell your DNA to third parties. Like most other companies, however, FamilyTreeDNA may use your aggregate genetic information for internal research and may comply with requests from law enforcement -- unless you opt out. 

Other DNA testing options

The three services above are our top choices for the best DNA test. But they weren't the only ones we tested. What follows are some additional options, none of which eclipsed the 23andMe, Ancestry or FamilyTreeDNA in any significant fashion. 

MyHeritage

kit1
MyHeritage

Based in Israel, MyHeritage was founded in 2003, and like a number of other services profiled here, started out as a genealogy software platform. Over time, it acquired a number of historical databases and eventually added DNA testing in 2016. (MyHeritage outsources its DNA analysis to FamilyTreeDNA.) In 2018, MyHeritage committed a security breach, exposing the email addresses and hashed passwords of more than 92 million users.

MyHeritage offers a free tier of service that includes some basic family tree-building and access to excerpts of historical documents. It won't get you too far. 

The basic DNA testing and analysis service, which is now on sale for $49, includes the usual fare -- a report of your genetic makeup across the company's 42 supported ethnicities, the identification of relatives and connections to them where possible. All things considered, I preferred FamilyTreeDNA's presentation of my DNA information. But MyHeritage highlighted a first cousin living in the US, with whom I shared about 15% of my DNA, and offered to show me her family tree -- if I paid a $209 annual subscription fee. 

Yes, that's expensive -- a free 14-day trial is available -- but the company maintains an impressive online database of historical documents that includes 3.5 billion profiles in addition to information about over 100 million subscribers and their collective 46 million family trees. This enormous database is powered by Geni.com, a genealogy social media site that's also MyHeritage's parent company. According to the New York Times, Geni.com has assembled "the world's largest, scientifically vetted family tree." 

In 2019, MyHeritage launched a health test similar to the one offered by 23andMe. As part of this effort, the company partnered with PWNHealth, a network of US physicians who oversee the process. I was required to complete a personal and family health history questionnaire -- it was 16 questions -- which was then ostensibly reviewed by a doctor. Though the company says it may recommend a "genetic counseling" session administered by PWNHealth, my health results were simply delivered along with my ancestry analysis.

On the plus side, I like MyHeritage's straightforward access to a range of comprehensible privacy preferences. Still, overall, I found MyHeritage's user interface far less intuitive and more difficult to navigate than others. Though the company's offering is broad -- it's one of the few to offer a comprehensive research database of historical documents, DNA analysis and health screening -- I found the integration among them to be a bit clumsy. 


Living DNA

living-dna-kit
Living DNA

Living DNA describes itself as a "consumer genealogy DNA service that does not sell or share customers' DNA or data with third parties," which gives you a sense of its priorities -- or, at least, its sense of customers' concerns. LivingDNA's headquarters in the UK may also be a factor in its distinctive mission statement, as it is subject to the more stringent data and privacy regulations of the GDPR

LivingDNA divides its offerings in a different way than others. The $79 autosomal DNA kit provides an overview of your ancestry in 80 geographical regions and information about maternal and paternal haplogroups and access to the company's genetic matching tool. The $99 "wellbeing package" includes reports about your physiological compatibility with vitamins, foods and exercise. And the $149 DNA ancestry and well-being package gives you all of it.

Recent ancestry results are presented with a breakdown of percentage by country as well as the percentage attributable to more detailed regions, as well as the origin and migration path of haplogroups. In February 2020, LivingDNA introduced an African Ancestry DNA test report that features data on 72 regions in Africa and, according to the company, "five times the detail of any other test on the market." The report is available for free to existing customers. 

That noted, the company has a very limited family match database; a company representative declined to deliver me a specific number but said that it contained less than 1 million profiles. My wife, who took the test, returned exactly zero matches. So, if you're looking to identify and make connections with relatives, there are better choices in the market. That noted, LivingDNA has a very solid reputation for both the quality of its DNA analysis and privacy terms among experienced genealogists. 


For experts only: Whole genome sequencing

There are a number of companies -- including Full Genomes, Veritas Genetics, Nebula Genomics and Dante Labs -- that can sequence all of your DNA, otherwise known as your genome. This level of analysis is appropriate for advanced users only. Not only is it expensive -- these tests can run into the thousands of dollars, in some cases -- it requires a sophisticated understanding of both genetics and a range of technical tools required to explore and interpret your results. 

The least expensive whole genome tests cost about $300. For example, Full Genome's 30X test -- which scans every targeted location of your genome 30 times on average -- is considered the standard for a clinical analysis. It costs $299.

For most people, the main rationale for sequencing the whole genome is to dive deep into your genetic health outlook. You can glean your personal risk factors for diseases, drug sensitivities and your status as a carrier; that is, what you might pass on to your kids. But there are also plenty of applications for advanced genealogical projects. 

All of these efforts can also be undertaken -- to a less intense degree -- with some of the more affordable options outlined above. But whole genome sequencing provides a significantly more comprehensive, accurate and high-resolution analysis. 

If you want to dip your toe into this realm. you might want to start with Nebula Genomics. You can also upload an existing DNA sequence from Ancestry or 23andMe's DNA database and get Nebula's reports at a reduced price. 


DNA tests we'd avoid


HomeDNA

HomeDNA sells testing kits under a number of brands, including DNA Origins, and has a retail presence at Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens. The company's tests claim to combine genetic research and "ancestral tracking" techniques that can identify the town or village where your ancestors originated with a high degree of accuracy. Many experts dispute these claims.

The company offers a range of ancestry testing services starting at $69. That's the price for the maternal and paternal lineage kits and the "Starter Ancestry Test," which uses DNA markers to develop an estimate of your origins in Europe, Indigenous America, East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa -- and shows you the modern population groups that share your DNA. The $124 "Advanced Ancestry Test" expands the analysis to 80,000 autosomal genetic markets, 1,000 reference populations and 41 gene pools. 

I'll note that the HomeDNA test kit contained no warning about not eating or drinking for any period of time prior to taking the test -- unlike every other kit I used. And of the four swabs the company sent, one broke. The test kit just didn't seem as rigorously hygienic as the others.

For $199, HomeDNA claims that the Asian Edition of its GPS Origins Ancestry Test can analyze 17 Asia-specific gene pools and hundreds of Asia-specific reference populations. In addition to a $164 paternity kit, the company also sells a variety of specific kits to determine your sensitivities to particular animals and foods, one to help you achieve a healthy weight, and another that promises to "unlock your skin's full potential." 

For $39, the company will allow you to upload a raw data file from another DNA testing service and pinpoint your origin to a particular town or city. There are also kits to help you screen your dog or cat for genetic diseases and traits. 

But this company doesn't have a sterling reputation in the genetic genealogy world. When we recently spoke with Debbie Kennett, a genetic genealogist from University College London, she referenced the company's notoriety for delivering "bizarre results" and expressed doubt about the efficacy of its specialized tests for particular ethnic groups. HomeDNA did not respond to CNET's inquiry about its testing process or results.

And the HomeDNA reports don't stack up particularly well against those returned by other companies. Results are summarized on a single webpage, though you also get a PDF that certifies that you've "undergone DNA testing" and shows the continents and countries where your DNA originates. The company also throws in a boilerplate 20-page explainer about DNA science and technology. HomeDNA does not offer access to any matching databases -- so there's no obvious next step or any actionable data that comes with your results. Given this, I'd recommend choosing a different DNA testing service. 

African Ancestry

Claiming to have the most comprehensive database of African lineages, African Ancestry promises to trace its customers' ancestry back to a specific country and identify their "ethnic group origin." But a number of experienced genealogists have cited issues with this company's marketing claims and science. 

Unlike most other companies, African Ancestry doesn't offer an autosomal DNA test. Instead, it offers an mtDNA test or a Y-DNA test (for males only). In contrast to your standard DNA analysis, African Ancestry's report doesn't provide the percentage of DNA that's likely to have originated across a range of regions. Instead, African Ancestry claims to trace your DNA to a specific region of Africa. 

According to experts, however, African Ancestry's DNA tests come up short. As explained in a blog post by African American genetic genealogist Shannon Christmas, the company's methodology simply doesn't analyze a sufficient number of DNA markers to deliver on its marketing promises. 

Furthermore, he writes, "Ethnicity is a complex concept, a concept not as rooted in genetics as it is in sociopolitical and cultural constructs. There is no DNA test that can assign anyone to an African ethnic group or what some refer to as an 'African tribe.'" African Ancestry isn't the only company that claims to be able to determine your ethnicity or "ethnic group of origin." But its claim to narrow things down to a single "tribe" of origin is overblown, as any African tribe would ostensibly contain multiple haplogroups. 

In an email to CNET, African Ancestry responded: "African Ancestry makes it clear that ethnic groups are social and cultural groupings, not genetic ones. However, based on extensive genetic research of African lineages performed by African Ancestry's co-founder and Scientific Director (who holds a Ph.D. in Biology and specializes in human genetics), we find that contrary to laymen's beliefs, there are ethnic groups that share genetic lineages. Our results pinpoint genetic lineages that share the same genetics as our test takers. Given the vast number of lineages in our African Lineage Database, we are able to provide the ethnic groups of the people with that shared lineage."

The company's PatriClan Test analyzes eight Y-chromosome STRs and the YAP, which it says is a critical identifier for African lineages; and the MatriClan Test analyzes three regions of the mitochondrial DNA: HVS1, HVS2 and HVS3. But though these tests offer lower-resolution results than others, African Ancestry's services are considerably more expensive. The company's Y-DNA test and mtDNA tests cost $299 each -- or you can take them both, and get an eight-pack of "certificates of ancestry" and a four-pack of t-shirts, for $729. 

On the plus side, African Ancestry says that it does not maintain a database of customer information and that it will not share or sell your DNA sequence or markers with any third party -- including law enforcement agencies. The company's terms and conditions run to just over 2,200 words, making them considerably more concise than the disclosure statements of most other companies we included in this roundup. And African Ancestry promises to destroy your DNA sample after your test results are delivered.

That said, even if you accept the company's take on tribal and ethnic genetic markers, African Ancestry remains too expensive to recommend at its current price.


What does a DNA test tell you?

If you're using a home DNA testing service, you're likely looking for one of three things:

Ancestry and family history: The first big draw of a full DNA test is that you'll get a detailed breakdown on ancestry and ethnicity, and the migration patterns of your common ancestors. Spoiler alert: Your ethnic background may be radically different than you think it is. You'll also find out what a haplogroup is.

Relative identification: With your permission, some DNA services will let you connect with relatives you never knew you had -- other folks with matching DNA who have used the service and likewise given their permission to connect to possible relations. 

Health and disease info: DNA testing can also indicate which conditions for which you may have a preponderance. It's a controversial feature, to be sure. Knowing that you have a genetic predisposition to a certain form of cancer may make you more vigilant for testing, but it may also lead to increased stress -- worrying about a potential health condition that may never develop, even if you're "genetically susceptible" to it. The possibility of false positives and false negatives abound -- any such information should be discussed with your doctor before you act upon it.

How DNA tests work

Afraid of needles and drawing blood? Good news: That's not an issue with these tests. All you need to do is spit into a vial or rub a swab in your mouth -- all the genetic data needed for these tests is present in your saliva -- and ship the DNA sample to the company for analysis. 

The reason that a saliva sample works as well as blood (or hair follicles or skin samples) is that your DNA -- which is short for deoxyribonucleic acid -- is present in all of them. It's the basic genetic code present in all of your cells that makes up your key attributes, from the color of your eyes to the shape of your ears to how susceptible you are to cholesterol.

The key terms you need to know when comparing DNA testing services are:

SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism): Genotyping is done by measuring genetic variation. One of the more common is SNP genotyping, which measures the variations of a single nucleotide polymorphism. The more of these a company measures, the more granular the analysis.

Autosomal DNA testing: An autosomal test that's effective for men and women, and which traces lineage back through both maternal and paternal bloodlines.

Y-DNA: The Y-DNA test can only be administered to men, and traces DNA back through the patrilineal ancestry -- basically from father to grandfather to great grandfather and so on.

mtDNA: The mtDNA is matrilineal and lets you trace your ancestry back through your mother, grandmother, great grandmother and so on. 


DNA testing FAQs


Can I use a DNA test to determine paternity?

Yes, DNA tests are the most accurate way to determine paternity of a child. Samples need to be collected from both the child and suspected parent to make a determination. For the best accuracy, you need a test that specifically checks for paternity not just ancestry.

Can I get a DNA test for my dog?

Yes. Several companies sell dog DNA tests with the goal of helping you determine the breed of your animal and screen for possible genetic health issues. 

Three popular brands are Wisdom Panel (for both dogs and cats), Embark (for dogs only), and Basepaws (for cats only).

More DNA advice

David Gewirtz contributed to this story. The current version is a major update of past revisions and includes hands-on impressions of most of the services listed.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

Wed, 12 Aug 2020 07:30:00 -0500 See full bio en text/html https://www.cnet.com/health/medical/best-dna-test/
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Weight 134 g (4.73 oz)
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