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Aug 10, 1998

Hello Dr. I've seen a number of comments regarding DNA PCR tests, but I don't think I seen RNA PCR mentioned. I've tested neg on the anti-body tests for 9 months despite persistent symptoms which seem to be consistent with HIV infection (sore glands, rashes, coating on tongue, etc.). In addition to the anti-body tests, I had an "HIV-1 RNA PCR a little more than 3 months post possible exposure. Should the results of this test (less than 400 copies/ml) have been definitive or would a DNA PCR be in order now to put an end to all of this? Thank you very much. You're doing a heckuvva job with this site...

Response from Dr. Holodniy

Thanks for the positive feedback. I view DNA and RNA PCR as being complimentary. After acute infection, one sees a massive amount of replication within the lymph glands. This produces lots of infected cells, which in turn are producing lots of viral particles that are put out into the plasma. Within a few days to a couple of weeks, one can detect infected cells (HIV DNA PCR) and cell free plasma virus (HIV RNA PCR) in the blood. The levels are usually so high, that it is relatively easy to find infection by either test. Once antibodies are produced, the amount of infected cells (DNA) and plasma viral load (RNA) goes down by some amount (different in every person). With negative antibody tests and a negative RNA test, I am not sure what a DNA test would add. MH

Viral load as universal screening device
PCR and Recombinant HIV

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