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viral load measurement
Jun 13, 2005

If there are many different stains of HIV, how do they measure the viral load? Do they test for all the different strains? Mine is "undetectable", but how do I know they are testing for the strain that I have?

Response from Dr. Sherer

The viral load assays that are commonly used in the US at present do measure RNA from both B clade - the most common in North America - and non-B clades. The issue of the reliability of both the ELISA for HIV antibody and the tests for RNA, i.e. the viral load, is increasingly important in the US, as increasing numbers of non-B clades are being seen here. In one report from Minnesota last year, 20% of recent infections were found to be non-B clades, mostly in immigrant populations. The ELISA can miss the detection of some group O viruses, for example, and a history of a possible exposure to HIV in Asia or Africa might prompt the clinician to seek an ELISA to group O viruses in unusual circumstances. The viral load assays to date are able to capture RNA from all known clades.


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