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HCV and immune response in HIV infected
Jan 21, 2006

Dear Doctor M:

In HIV patients, why is HCV PCR testing sometimes necessary to establish HCV if the lymphocyte group that makes antibodies is B cell and HIV attacks T cells? Doesn't the immune dysfunction in HIV occur elsewhere than the location of immune system that creates antibodies?

Response from Dr. McGovern

PCR testing for HCV RNA is only necessary to get a "baseline" test of the level of virus in a person's system. It is important to follow this number over time as someone is treated for HCV to see if the virus is responding to therapy.

Also the HCV RNA test is important to determine whether virus is present or not. About 10 percent of HIV infected patients have cleared the HCV virus on their own.



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