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PCR DNA testing, is it accurate???
Jan 28, 1999

I asked the CDC if the PCR DNA test was accurate for the detection of HIV and their response was "NO". They said that there are several reasons why listed below. 1. The competency of the lab performing the test. 2. How the sample was handled. 3. That even an infected person might not show a detectible level of virus in this test. 4. This test is not FDA approved. Now, my questions to you are: Answers to the above, plus, some more. 1. If coupled with an antibody test and both are negative, can a person still be infected? 2. When would a person not have a detectible level of virus to be picked up? 3. Why is this test only for the HIV I strain? Please respond, I look forward to your answers.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

The answer from the FDA in your first 1-4 are correct. For the next 3, in a reliable lab, if both tests are negative after 2-4 weeks of exposure, I would say the person is not infected. I have never seen a person with a negative PCR that was infected. As we have discussed on this forum numerous times, there have been a few cases of HIV antibody negative HIV infection, but they have all had positive DNA PCR or viral load tests. HIV-1 and 2 very in their genetic sequence. PCR testing requires DNA primers and probes (small pieces of DNA) that have very specific sequences for each virus. HIV-2 PCR primers will not work with HIV-1 and vice versa. MH



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