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Can a biopsy of the lymph nodes detect HIV?
Jul 18, 2003

Can a simple biopsy of the lymph nodes detect the HIV virus? If so, how likely is it that a health care professional/doctor would see this on a test? Thanks.

Response from Dr. Dezube

The answer to your question is really "yes and no". HIV causes very distinct changes in lymph nodes, but these changes can be seen as a result of other conditions. So a pathologist, who is skilled in the art of looking at lymph nodes, might say that the patient's lymph node resembles that of an HIV-infected person, but s/he could not say for sure whether the person is indeed HIV-infected. Only the HIV blood test can really establish the presence or absence of an HIV infection.

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