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False Negative PCR DNA

Feb 8, 1999

Dear Dr. Holodniy, In one of your previous answers - "PCR DNA testing, is it accurate??? (January 28)" your answer to the below question was YES. "3. That even an infected person might not show a detectible level of virus in this test." How could this be possible? In what conditions does a person have a false negative PCR DNA, assuming that the test was performed on a credible lab? I'm very worried because I had one of this tests negative at one month after an extremly high risked exposure and I still hadn't had the ELISA followup. Thanks.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

The precise day that a DNA PCR test would be 100% positive after acute HIV infection is difficult to ascertain. We believe that it will be positive in almost all people within a couple of weeks to one month after infection. Therefore, if the test were done to early, it might be negative. If a person were infected with a strain of virus that a DNA PCR test is unable to detect, it might also be negative. MH


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