PCR and Antigen Testing
Oct 13, 1998
Dear Doctor, Is PCR another name for ELISA or Western Blot? The word "Gold Standard" is reffered to which? Is it true to say Antegen testing of the presence of the virus is effective only imediately after infection. I mean it does not show any results on well positive blood? Which test can show the presence of the virus itself, not the 'effects' of the virus? Thanks.
Response from Dr. Holodniy
ELISA and Western blot assays are used to determine the presence of antibodies to HIV. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detects or quantitates the actual virus in blood plasma or blood cells. The antigen test you mention is p24 antigen, which is a piece or protein component of the virus. P24 antigen is present during acute infection, just before and just after the development of antibodies. It then reappears late in infection when the immune system has lost control and the virus replicates to very high levels. MH
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