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HIV Early Detection Test (including HIV 1 DNA PCR)
Aug 21, 2012

Dr. Wohl,

What are the limitations of a non-reactive Qualitative DNA PCR test taken a year after exposure? It was part of an STD Early Detection panel that also included standard antibody tests for HIV 1/2, HCV and HIV, which were all non-reactive.

http://www.questdiagnostics.com/testcenter/testguide.action?fn=TS_HIV1_DNA_QualPCR.htm#4.

I took the tests despite negative Ab/Ag testing at the three week and three month mark because I experienced many very strong ARS-like symptoms in the weeks following exposure. My concern is the potential of a delayed seroconversion. Getting to the point, I have the following questions re DNA PCR:

(a) Is it true that the DNA-PCR might not be able to detect some less common strains;

(b) Is it a possibility that the DNA-PCR might return a false negative for a case of delayed seroconversion if my CD4 count has fallen too low? (I did not think of having a CBC run).

(c) Would the HIV-1 DNA-PCR test be completely ineffective against HIV-2?

(d) Would an RNA viral load test be conclusive if DNA test is not? (Note that I would have preferred an RNA test but I could not find a provider).

Thank you very much for your time, sir.

- FPF

Response from Dr. Wohl

I suspect you may be mixing up the DNA and RNA tests. The RNA tests are much more commonly done and are excellent. Negative antibody and RNA or DNA testing means you are not HIV infected.

DW



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