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HIV Testing methods

Oct 13, 1998

Dear Doctor:

Could you explain the different methods/techniques currently used to test HIV infection? and which of the following testing methods are the most accurate tests:

1. PGA 2. GA 3. Western Blot 4. ELISA

Thank you and I look forward to receive your reply soonest.

With warm regards

Response from Dr. Holodniy

I have to plead ignorance as to what the acronyms PGA/GA stand for. If you could give me the name, I probably know what it is. On to number 3/4. ELISA stands for enzyme linked immunosorbent assay. Another name is EIA, enzyme immunoassay. This test qualitatively detects whether any of several HIV antibodies are present in serum. It can not discriminate as to which kind of HIV antibody is present. These are usually used as screening tests. They can be done in blood, saliva, or urine. A western blot test is also an antibody test. It is more specific in that it visually shows you 8 or more different antibodies that the immune system makes against HIV. The standard testing algorithm calls for ELISA testing at baseline, 1,3, and 6 months after an exposure. A western blot is only done if the ELISA test is positive. These tests are in their 4 or 5th generation and are very sensitive and specific for HIV infection. Rarely because of other underlying diseases (cancer, other infections) these tests can be falsely positive. MH

Weak results

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