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p24 and antibody test?
Dec 12, 2004

Dear Dr. Bob, There seems to be a standard boilerplate of thanks before letters, so I will get right to the question... well, on second thought, I just can't help myself: this is without a doubt THE most informative site on the net and I can't thank you enough for handling what can be a very scary time with humor and good-spirit. OK, now that I've got that off my chest... I recently read a paper that said that a test for the p24 viral protein can be combined with an antibody test to virtually eliminate the 3-month window period. According to this paper, detectable p24 protein was present in the blood in the first 3 months before antibody is detectable. Do you know if p24 tests are commercially availiable or if combo tests are availiable?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

THE most informative site on the Net??? Ahhh shucks, you're going to make me blush. Besides, you're probably just trying to butter me up so I'll answer your question, right? Well, OK fine. As you can see, that tactic apparently works. Here's your info.

P24 antigen is sometimes used, due to its reduced cost, as an alternative to HIV RNA testing to detect acute HIV infection. It, like HIV RNA, detects a piece of the virus, rather than antibodies that are proteins made by our immune system to combat the virus. The specificity of p24 antigen testing is close to 100%, but the sensitivity of the test is only about 90%, less than quantitative HIV RNA tests. Yes, it is commercially available and yes, combo antigen-antibody tests are available.

Hope that helps!

Dr. Bob



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