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Will a lymph node biopsy reveal HIV virus?
Apr 12, 2003

I tested HIV negative for a year and a half, but have reason to believe with my sexual history that there may be a delayed seroconversion... non-stop symptoms and low cd4's. my cheeks/neck glands are swollen all the time (especially the left one) and my cd4 is 467. additionally, i have severe muscle wasting; thrush; central obesity; diarrhea; nausea; elevated fever - all going on for a year and a half! I tested positive for Epstein Barr and I know that has been linked with both Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas. What i am wondering is if i get my lymph gland biopsied, obviously they will find cancer cells if this is indeed lymphoma, but in the outside chance this is an outlier strain of hiv simply taking longer to show up on blood tests, will a biopsy reveal HIV virus or any other indication of the presence of HIV infection inside my lymph gland?

Response from Dr. Dezube

A trained pathologist should be able to recognize lymph nodes which are suspicious for HIV infection. HOWEVER, evven if you were to have such a lymph node, only a positive HIV blood test would allow one to conclude that you are indeed infected. The most a lymph node could show is changes suspicious for HIV; it would not be diagnostic of HIV.

As for your positive Epstein Barr test, you need to know that the Epstein Barr virus is exceedingly common. The vast majority of folks who had an Epstein Barr Virus infection do not even remember having such an infection. Most Epstein Barr virus infections do NOT cause Hodgkin's disease or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Only a small minority of them do.

In any event, I would not recommend a lymph node biopsy solely to find out if you are HIV positive.


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