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NAT vs. antibody testing question

Mar 13, 2012

Hello~ I have read several posts on this site that discuss NAT and how accurate those tests are, but many of those posts are years old (I think the most recent one I found was from 2008 or 2009 that stated a 3 month antibody test was still the gold standard to go off of). I was wondering if you could give some more updated information on the accuracey of NAT when it comes to HIV and Hep B and C?

If a person were tested using NAT after 4 weeks (28 days), would a negative result be considered conclusive for HIV and Hep B and C, or would they still need an antibody test at the 3-6 month mark to be conclusive?

Thank you.

Response from Dr. Wohl

NAT or nucleic acid testing looks for actual virus rather than the antibodies the body produces in response to an infection. NAT has been used to do viral load testing for viral infections such as HIV.

The testis very accurate. False negatives are much rarer than false positives. A negative NAT for HIV after 4 weeks with negative HIV antibody means no infection.


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