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question about pcr and antibody testing
Sep 21, 2010

Hi dr bob, if the antibody tests used today are so good and taken beyond 6months gives you your status then what purpose does the PCR test have? Is there ever a reason to take a pcr test beyond 6 months when an antibody can be used at that point. The reason I ask is I see tons of posts of people taking pcr tests beyond 6 months.

Last side question, does having hiv result in slower heal times or leaving for longer scars on the body, or is that irrelavent.

Hope 20 bucks is enough for a donation, its all I got.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

HIV-antibody tests taken beyond the window period remain the gold standard for HIV diagnosis. The HIV-antibody test is a purely a diagnostic test.

Quantitative HIV plasma RNA PCR tests are used primarily to monitor HIV disease progression. It's a measure of viral replication and therefore is an excellent tool for monitoring how well antiretroviral therapy is working.

Qualitative HIV PCR DNA is not FDA approved for HIV-diagnostic testing; however, it can be very helpful in sorting out unclear or indeterminate HIV-antibody test results.

All PCR tests run the risk of false positives and are much more costly than diagnostic HIV-antibody tests.

You can learn much more about HIV-diagnostic versus HIV-monitoring tests in the archives and elsewhere on this site. See "HIV Testing 101" under the heading "The Basics" on The Body's homepage.

Regarding your "last side question," having HIV does not alter healing or scaring.

Thanks for your support of The Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org).

Dr. Bob



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