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Testing the Blood Tests

Dec 17, 1996

Sir, I was wondering how the new versions of the HIV serology tests are tested. For example, I read that the Los Alamos lab has a repository of all known HIV strains, some so rare that they don't even have a name for it. Are new serology tests tested against these to make sure they are as accurate as possible? If not, then how are they tested? Thanks!

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

Antibody tests are continually being evaluated and monitored to make sure they continue to pick up all strains of HIV. With the exception of the rare and unusual "Group O" Strain, antibody tests will pick up HIV infections, regardless of the strain type. And even with this unusual strain, antibody tests will usually pick it up. They are being modified to pick up even this unusual strain. However, I am not aware of any other strain that the current antibody tests will not always pick up. Again, these tests continue to be evaluated to ensure that they pick up all strains of HIV.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

How reliable are the PCR and the bDNA tests?
Different strains = Different RNA/DNA?

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