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VL UNDETECTABLE. HIV TEST NEGATIVE??
Sep 25, 2004

IF YOUR VIRAL LOAD (AS AN HIV INFECTED PERSON) BECOMES UNDETECTABLE, DOES THAT MEAN THAT AN HIV TEST AT THIS TIME WOULD APPEAR NEGATIVE?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

No, an undetectable viral load will not change the results of an HIV antibody test. These are two very different tests that measure two very different things.

HIV tests (ELISA and Western Blot assays) are serologic tests, tests that look for specific antibodies in the blood serum produced by the immune system. In other words, ELISA and Western Blot tests do not look for the presence of HIV itself, but rather the antibodies produced by the immune system to fight HIV.

Viral load tests, on the other hand, actually measure the amount of HIV per milliliter of blood (copies per milliliter). Even with an "undetectable" viral load, and HIV-positive person is still positive and will have a positive ELISA and Western Blot.

Hope that helps clarify things for you.

Dr. Bob



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