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Ruling out HIV
Aug 22, 2012

Hello Dr. McGowan,

I would like to know what test would be considered to be the most definitive/ appropriate in the diagnosis or ruling out of HIV beyond the window period, in a person suspected of not being able to produce antibodies? Which of the following - PCR RNA, PCR DNA, proviral DNA, branched DNA - has the lowest false negative rate?

Thank you in advance! Karl

Response from Dr. McGowan

Karl,

It would be highly unlikely that a person would be unable to generate antibodies (there are some rare inherited conditions, but those people would generally be sick from childhood). Other tests are not studied to diagnose HIV, but rather to monitor it. In diagnosing HIV in newborns, the HIV DNA PCR is used. This would also be positive in most long-term non-progressors (although non-progressors generally have very robust antibody responses).

Best, Joe



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