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VL margin of error & accuracy of antibody test
Dec 15, 2000

Hi, I was diagnosed with HIV and HBV 8 months ago (I was tested as part of a general wellness physical, not because of any symptoms). My exposure to HIV was at least 4 years ago. In that time I have had 4 sets of VL and CD4 tests. They were (from earliest to most recent) 990/275, 770/290, 650/490, 490/475.

The first two sets were taken a month apart, and the last 2 at 3 month intervals after that. I am on no treatments (for either HIV or HBV). My tests were all taken at the same lab so I assume the VL test method was the same each time. My doctor says that the viral loads are statistically the same. At what point would the VL counts not be statistically the same? When the VL is under 200? When it's undetectable?

I'm thinking of asking for another HIV antibody test if my VL continues to decrease without meds because I read the HBV can result in false positives in HIV tests. Am I just deluded in thinking that may be the case?

Response from Dr. Holodniy

Undetectable is currently "< 50 copies/ml". Your viral load levels are all statistically and biologically the same. Current assays have about a 1.5 to 2 fold (2 times) assay variation rate. That is testing the same sample multiple times on the same and different days. The variability goes up slightly when samples from different days are tested. An HBV test should not affect an HIV viral load test. MH



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