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timeline for resistance testing

Jul 4, 2003

My doctor told me that a resistance test is not accurate if too long a period goes by after exposure. Is this true? If so,for long a period of time after exposure is the test accrurate?

Response from Dr. Wohl

There have been some well known studies that have looked at the drug resistance patterns of the virus found in the blood of people who were recently (generally, within 1 year) HIV infected. The good news was that most people did not have drug resistance virus, the not so good news was that resistance is increasing over time.

It is true though that the ability to detect resistant virus decreases over time. This is mostly because the resistant virus often does not work as well as the natural, resistance-free virus. This natural, or 'wild type', virus over-grows and is what is found in most people years after infection.

More work is being done to look at the use of resistance testing later in infection so stay tuned. For now, however, if a patient comes to me more than a year or so after infection, I generally do not order resistance testing. DW

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