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PCR CONFUSION
Jul 1, 2001

Dr. Cohen GOLLY do I like your style!!! Just one question....Tell me once and for all the difference between the hiv pcr/dna versus the hiv pcr/rna. Note I said D-na and then I said R-na. I NEEEEEEEEEEEED!!!!!!!!!!!! tell and hope you will tell me.Is one better than another?

Response from Dr. Cohen

Well, thanks for the compliment.

As for the query - these are not tests we can easily say which is "better". Like we can with, say, ice cream versus limburger cheese for dessert. Or a Lexus and a Yugo for a cross country trip. Or a vacation in the Greek Islands versus one in say, Gary Indiana. Here it is pretty clear which is better. (uh oh, here comes the Cheese-Yugo-Gary Indiana fan club mail....)

The comparison is more a question of what you are trying to learn. We use R-na to judge how much HIV is growing. Since when it does grow, we can easily quantify the Rna in the blood. And when it is high, we see T4 counts drop. When it is low, the counts can stabilize and improve again.

While D-na is more used just to see if HIV is there at all. Since someone can have a very low Rna level done but still have a positive Dna - the DNA is present since HIV is still there, even if it is not growing as might be seen with an "undetectable" RNA. And DNA is not as sensitive to quantitative changes when on and off meds - so we don't use it to monitor meds.

So here the difference is more like, say, a taxicab made by Chevy or Ford. Or the difference of Michael and Janet Jackson. Or butter versus olive oil. Both get you there - but it depends on where you wanna get.

Got it?



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