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Managing Side Effects of HIV TreatmentManaging Side Effects of HIV Treatment
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Jul 11, 2001

Hello Dr. Henry,

You seem to be a proponent of RNA PCR testing. In many of your responses, you mention if someone is concerned about his/her status despite a negative ELISA he/she should consider an RNA PCR test. My question to you is do you feel this test is more sensitive or better at picking up infection than an DNA PCR? I have read a DNA PCR would still be positive in an infected person who has an undetectable viral load, hence their RNA PCR would be falsely negative. What are your thoughts?

Response from Dr. Henry

I don't believe that the HIV DNA test is as standardized or interpretable as the HIV RNA test. There are incredibly few cases where an HIV antibody test and HIV RNA test were negative while the HIV DNA test was positive and those situations are often contested. To evaluate the window period after HIV infection but before development of anti-HIV antibodies detected by ELISA/western blot, the HIV RNA test is the preferred test. KH

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