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Help me out here
Apr 26, 2008

Dear Doc. I have written a couple of time just to let you know that I love you, I still do. Here is my issue. EIA, ELISA are they the same test with slightly different names, or are they diffent. P24 antigen, what the hell is that? I understand the Western blot should follow EIA or ELISA, but what about HIV DNA PCR. Totally confused. Rick

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Rick,

EIA (enzyme immunoassay) and ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay) are indeed variations on the same theme. These are methods of detecting specific antibodies. In the case of HIV, they look for anti-HIV antibodies. If these tests are reactive (positive), yes, they need to be confirmed by a more specific antibody test called a Western Blot or immunofluorescent assay (IFA).

The p24 antigen test detects a piece of the viral protein itself. It may reveal positive results somewhat sooner than the anti-HIV antibody tests.

HIV DNA PCR is a totally different testing assay that doesn't involve anti-HIV antibodies. It detects a piece of the viral genetic material (DNA). HIV DNA PCR is not routinely used for HIV screening, due to the rate of false-positives, technical considerations and cost. It is also not FDA approved for this purpose. It can, however, be useful in sorting out unclear or indeterminate HIV-antibody test results.

You can learn much more about HIV-diagnostic and HIV-monitoring tests by reviewing the information on this site (do a "search") and also reading the archives of this forum.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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