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Use of PCR
Aug 23, 2001

Dear Doctor,

If a person has a normal range of lymphocytes in their blood (as stated on a CBC)would this ensure that an antibody response to hiv would be made within 3 months?, and is it good practice to utilise a PCR test which looks for the virus iteslf, if symptoms similar to hiv infection are ongoing in a hiv- patient, in order to exclude this diagnosis once and for all?

Response from Dr. Feinberg

You can mount an antibody response to HIV within 3 months regardless of whether you have a normal lymphocyte count or not-- after all, AIDS patients with zero CD4 cells will have a positive antibody test. It is NOT a good idea to use PCR to make a diagnosis of HIV-- this test can be falsely positive, and is unnecessary.


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