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What is the most reliable HIV test?

Jun 10, 2003

Dr. Holodniy,

What is the most reliable way to test for HIV, including methods available only in research labs? For example, is there a way to test that would be 100 sure to detect every group M subtype as well as other groups and mutations of HIV virus? Would a viral culture do this? Also, is there a difference between a viral culture from peripheral blood mononuclear cells and a viral culture from resting CD4 cells?

Many thanks.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

Viral culture would be the least sensitive and most variable, when compared to antibody and viral nucleic acid testing. CD4 cells are part of the peripheral blood mononuclear cell pool of cells. Activated cells in general are more easily infected in cell culture.

What do I need to know about "viral bands observed"
what the results mean

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