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Better HIV tests? Get Involved!

Apr 26, 1999

Dear Dr. Holodnyi:

This note is only peripherally about viral load testing, for which I apologize, but I hope that you will finish reading it (it's very long, sorry) and post it anyway if it seems like it may be helpful to others. (I wrote previously regarding the "FAQ on DNA PCR". Thank you again, for your help!)

It is written in response to the posting decrying the lack (or a perceived) lack of precision in diagnosing HIV infection.The executive summary of the response is that we should all take action to improve that problem and other matters (like better treatments for one) related to HIV, by getting involved.


Like many other readers of this forum, I too may have exposed myself to HIV infection, for reasons that can best be described as temporary insanity.

I suspect that many of you have spent many terror-filled days and nights, just as I have.

Do anxiety filled moments researching probabilities of exposure, failure rates on condoms, testing window periods, anti-viral and immunological treatments sound familiar ?

Torn with guilt, perhaps, for being in this situation ?

Unfortunately, I don't have any answers for the roller coaster of emotions that you are riding; I wish I did. On a bad day, I don't even have any good answers for myself.

Whether we are infected or not is no longer in our control. What is under our control is what actions we can take to combat HIV. We can fight HIV not only for ourselves personally, but for the millions of other other people who are and will be infected.

I suspect that most people who read this forum are not infected,(just pessimistic, like me), and in a few weeks or months when the test results are back, we will perhaps forget about HIV.

Why not do something constructive now ?

Volunteer for your local AIDS Hotline or start one. You are all probably a wealth of information on every HIV related topic from the structure of the virus, to prevention methods, testing methodologies, and treatment etc. Perhaps you can even write a computer program that generates different anti-viral treatment regimens that take into account cross-resistance and side effects and post it on the internet.

Or you can write that Congressman or Congresswoman that claims to represent you and ask them to support AIDS research.

If all that sounds like too much work, please get your checkbook and make a donation to AIDS research.

If we are spending hundreds of dollars on a PCR test, and some of us are apparently spending thousands of dollars on these tests, we probably won't miss a hundred bucks or so to donate to AIDS research. I found out on this website, that the American Foundation for AIDS Reseach is the largest non-profit organization that funds AIDS research through philanthropic donations. ( Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with them in any way).

Perhaps Dr. Holodniy can suggest other organizations as well.

Their address:

American Foundation for AIDS Research is located at 120 Wall Street, 13th Floor New York, New York 10005

You can go to for further information. And, yes, I sent in my check tonight.

And if by misfortune we are infected, just remember the general who said at Normandy Beach on D-Day:

"There are two kinds of people here, those who are already dead and those who are about to die. You can lie down and die or you can die fighting"

Response from Dr. Holodniy

Consider it posted. MH

Testing Worries and the Placebo Effect?
Did you hear the one...

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