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Clarification on P24 Antigen test etc

Feb 16, 2003

Dear Mark, I have read with interest all the references to previous questions to your forum on the use of P24 testing, I must say I am a little confused regarding value of the timing.

I understand that P24 test can pick up HIV earlier than antibody tests. What I would like to understand is that if the P24 antigens are 'positive' do they remain positive until the antibodies appear? It seems clear that antibody production differs between individuals, so am keen to understand that if antigens are present within weeks and antibodies not present for 'months' that one or the other would be detected if both P24 and antibody tests were carried out together. Please can you clarify if possible.

This directly relates to my current position in as much I have had 2 straight antibody tests at 8.5 weeks and 12 weeks, both negative, and one P24 and antibody test at 20.5 weeks, again negative. If your question confirms that one or the other would have been present by the 20 weeks, I may decide to forgo the 6 months test.

Please Please Please reply, as this has without doubt been the worst period of my life.

Keep up the good work.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

There is overlap in terms of the time between the disappearance of p24 antigen and the development of p24 antibody during acute infection. The overlap period is variable.

Infectious virusand total virus load
Big fall in Cd4 percentage

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