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Sensitivity of VL tests
Aug 2, 2003

Thanks for answering my recent question. What I am trying to determine is whether you have seen or are aware of cases where someone repeatedly tests "undetectable" on a VL test, but where you feel (because of declining CD4 numbers and symptoms) that they are getting false negative VL test results - do the VL (PCR RNA, bDNA and PCR DNA) tests detect and/or measure all subtypes of HIV Group M, for example? Is the nucleic acid test that is used for safety of the blood supply the most sensitive test for detecting/measuring different subtypes of HIV virus?

Thanks.

Response from Dr. Young

I've not seen cases like you describe.

In general, it would be fairly unusual (assuming that you live and have acquired HIV in the US) to see false positive tests. Formally, the sensitivity of the test vary somewhat among viruses that are not clade B, but this would not mean that the test would read falsely negative, but rather, that the quantitation of the virus might not be accurate numerically.

The tests used to test blood supply, to my knowledge are not nucleic acid based, but rather, antibody-based. Such tests typically are not as clade specific, and indeed with also detect HIV-1 and HIV-2. BY



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