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pcr reliability
Mar 18, 2002

Dr. Dieterich, Setting aside possibility for lab error, what is it about viral presence/absence in serum which would make PCR testing falsely negative in a truly infected person? Is PCR able to pick up virus only during its replication? Can Hep viruses remain in the liver only, and show no viremic evidence in serum? Six months post exposure in HIV/Hep co-infected patient, would Hep DNA/RNA always be detectable? Thanks, Doctor Dieterich for your expertise and compassion.

Response from Dr. Dieterich

PCR is able to pick up and amplify extremely small quantities of virus. Occaisonlly there can be lab error. However with HCV, if the PCR in blood is truly negative it is really negative in the liver. HBV is different however! There is often HBV at low levels in both blood and liver of patients with antibodies to the virus. That is one virus that may never be cured after the first six months of infection. DTD



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