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Viral Load Testing for Diagnosis
Oct 1, 2012

Hi Shannon thanks so much for taking the time to read and respond to my question. I have read online about different types of HIV testing, and I know viral load testing is usually used only after a person has tested positive on an antibody test. I have also read that viral load is the highest during the beginning of infection. I had a viral load test done 28.5 weeks after possible exposure and my result was undetectable. I also received a negative antibody result at this time. Would it be possible for the viral load test to not detect the virus because there was not enough in my blood at that time? Or would I have tested positive regardless?

Response from Ms. Southall

Hi The PCR or viral load test would pick up the virus and with your antibody test reading negative then so are you. The guidelines for HIV testing are to be initially tested at 3 weeks then again at 3 months, if both of these tests are negative then so are you, as long as there were no other types of exposure during that 3 month period, if so then the timing starts over again.

It is true that within the first few weeks to months of infection the viral load is very high, it is one of the most infectious times of someone living with HIV. And you would test positive if you had been infected with HIV within the first 3 months of infection as the test are picking up the antibodies that your body makes against the virus.

Hope this helps. Be well and stay safe, Shannon



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