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Question re: 12-2-98 Response

Dec 14, 1998


I'm confused. On 12/2/98, someone asked if they should confirm their HIV status via an antibody test after serconversion if an ultra sensitive assay test already detected it prior to seroconversion. I thought seroconversion was the process of producing antibodies, and that you can't test positive until 1-4 weeks after that time. Can the body produce some antibodies prior to the full blown serconversion that some of these new tests are able to find? Thanks for any clarification.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

Yes. The ELISA has a mixure of different antigens (proteins) of HIV that can detect different antibodies against HIV. As I have stated in the past, there is a natural evolution of antibodies over time (ie, p24 antibody first, p55 last). This process can take 3 months or more. The first antibody might be present in a couple of weeks, but the ELISA will be negative. Remember viral load tests are looking for the virus, not antibodies to it. The virus will appear first, but the evolution of antibodies comes very quickly after. MH

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