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PCR results Q from prior post

Feb 9, 1999

Your reply stated if PCR testing was positive , you were infected. Well, the doctor, an OB/GYN, did not even know how or what to order for me (?) and she had to confer with an infectious disease doc and he told her what to order me for exposure 3 and 7 weeks ago(PCR)She said results need to be interpretated, that there are false postives. How can that be? If your finding particles of HIV, it isnt the same as say the rare autoimmune disease causing false pos on antibody tests or other tests, because your actually isolating the virus, right? You know, sometimes I feel like my doctors aren't as knowledgeable as me. This causes me anxiety I don't need. Time for a switch? Thanks again..your so helpful!(How long does PCRresults take?Iknow the lab said they are "Sent" out)Is this a viral load test? JC

Response from Dr. Holodniy

Some definitions are in order first. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a molecular diagnositic assay that can be used for a variety of things. It is not specific for HIV. HIV PCR comes in 2 flavors, DNA PCR, which measures HIV in cells, and RNA PCR which is also refered to as a viral load test. There is always the possibility of false positives with any test. No test can be perfect all of the time. It can be related to sampling handling, operator inexperience, or other retrovirus infections to name a few. The actual test takes a day. Depending on volume of samples, quality control issues, etc, results may take a few days to get back. MH

HIV symptoms???

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