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Can you please answer?
Jun 13, 2011

Can a 10 month HIV PCR DNA test be a false negative do to Hep C co-infection? I had a negative HIV PCR DNA test performed but am sure I have Hep C infection. I have elevated ALT, itchy skin, no appetite, abdominal pains, numb hands and feet. I know acute Hep C with HIV can delay antibody detection for both viruses but can it also affect the PCR DNA HIV test result? In addition is that test effective that long after exposure? IS there no HIV test you can take to rule out infection in this case or do you simply have to wait until antibodies are detectable? Would the virus still not be present or detectable?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello.

No, a 10-month undetectable qualitative HIV PCR DNA could not be a hepatitis C coinfection-induced false negative. Period! PCR testing assays directly for a piece of the virus's genetic material. It has nothing to do with anti-HIV antibodies or seroconversion windows. Your fears are completely unwarranted.

As an aside, hepatitis C is not that difficult to diagnose 10 months after a potential exposure. There are many potential causes for your elevated ALT and symptoms. HIV is not one of them.

Dr. Bob



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