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Is the PCR qual test conclusive after 2 months?
Aug 26, 1996

Is the PCR-qual test conclusive regarding one's HIV status after 2 months of a risky incident?

Response from Dr. Cohen

You are referring to the qualitative HIV PCR test, which is able to detect the presence of HIV before antibodies have formed, that is, before the ELISA and Western Blot have turned positive.

Because the standard method for determining HIV infection is with serology (ELISA and Western Blot), we know more about how to use them for diagnosis. A negative HIV serology six months after exposure is definite evidence of lack of infection. Although we know less about the timing with PCR, someone who has become infected should have a positive PCR by two months. I would say that a negative PCR at that time is pretty good news, but if it was a truly high risk exposure, then the usual procedure would be to have an HIV serology done at 3 and 6 months.



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