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Nanotechnology-based techniques are being widely evaluated in medical testing and could provide a new generation of diagnostic assays due to their high degrees of sensitivity, high specificity, multiplexing capabilities, and ability to operate without enzymes. In this article, we have modified a nanoparticle-based biobarcode amplification (BCA) assay for early and sensitive detection of HIV-1 capsid (p24) antigen by using antip24 antibody-coated microplates to capture viral antigen (p24) and streptavidin-coated nanoparticle-based biobarcode DNAs for signal amplification, followed by detection using a chip-based scanometric method. The modified BCA assay exhibited a linear dose-dependent pattern within the detection range of 0.1 to 500 pg/ml and was approximately 150-fold more sensitive than conventional enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). No false positive results were observed in 30 HIV-1-negative samples, while all 45 HIV-1 RNA positive samples were found HIV-1 p24 antigen positive by the BCA assay. In addition, the BCA assay detected HIV-1 infection 3 days earlier than ELISA in seroconversion samples. Preliminary evaluation based on testing a small number of samples indicates that the HIV-1 p24 antigen BCA may provide a new tool for sensitive and early detection of HIV-1 p24 antigen in settings where HIV-1 RNA testing is currently not routinely performed.