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Kind of dumb question about test names
      #16635 - 03/15/01 03:25 PM

I know I should know this, but with the stress I've been feeling, and all the different test names - are some of them called by different names or short/long names? I mean, I've run across (at least as far as viral):

Then, there's the antibody test, which it seems the only question is which generation it is, and when it will start to show positive. Speaking of - does anyone know anything about Orasure, what generation specifically? It's an oral test (not saliva) that the clinics around here all seem to use - I know it's supposed to detect as well as others, I guess it's just a question of when.

Thanks in advance.

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Re: Kind of dumb question about test names new
      #16637 - 03/15/01 04:20 PM

If you go to the main page of The Body, you will see a forum that has "Ask the Experts". The Viral Load and Resistnace Testing forum has answers to all of those tests in detail.Good luck!

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Re: Kind of a good question new
      #16639 - 03/15/01 05:05 PM

It's a good question (not dumb). Not unlike the computer field(!), the medical field (and the professionals in it) seem to have their own preferred acronyms and vocabulary for everything. I have come across a lot of inconsistencies in understanding of all HIV issues among social workers, hotlines, nurses and even doctors, who are not specialists in HIV. Just doing research on the web can be confusing and information can be very contradictory. Part of this, I think, is due to the fact that (like the computer field) the medical field is making advances very quickly. Even recently I think there was an article that the AMA put out, that recognized and defined an HIV/AIDS specialization that doctors could become certified in. Information becomes outdated almost daily with new research.
To make matters worse, things filter down to messege forums like this where everyone has there own experiences and doctors and tests, etc. which they feel is gospel. I guess you have to have an open mind, do your own research through reputable sources and then cite (copy-paste) your references (if you post something) keeping in mind the date!
In regards to your question about tests, I'm a bit confused as well so I won't cloud the issue. There were/was some recent posts that talked about the different tests. My take on it is:
1.) There are tests that check for virus directly (ie., antigen tests) like PCR and bDNA
2.) These tests may have "sub-tests" like PCR-DNA or PCR-RNA
3.) All tests(assays) have evolved over the years and seem to have a "version" number (like computer software) associated with it. And I guess the term "generation" is commonly used as well. For example, "3rd generation" ELISA antibody test evolved from 1st and 2nd generation (versions) ELISA tests.
4.) As these versions/generations evolve so does the tests accuracy and thus shortening the "window period". What was once confirmation at 6 months is now (unofficially) 3 months, because of the accuracy of the "3rd" generation ELISA test. However, no one seems to want to "officially" say a 3 month 3rd generation ELISA antibody test is enough because they don't want to be sued! Especially because the Home Access test uses the 1st generation ELISA test.
Anyhow, don't go by what I say!!! This is just my "experience" on it. I'm SURE there will many people who can add and to this. But, do your own research. is another good resource. Best of luck to you!

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Reged: 11/21/00
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Re: Kind of dumb question about test names new
      #16643 - 03/15/01 10:46 PM

Very good questions! Not dumb at all. Doing research on HIV can be a confusing task due to all of the different information.

All I can do is pass on what I have learned. Here you go...

DNA PCR - is a qualitative test. In other words, it's just looking for the presence of the virus and not interested in counting it hence more sensitive. Copies detected...10

RNA PCR - is a quantitative test. It is used to monitor therapy in confirmed HIV patients. Counts the virus. Copies detected 50.

P24 antigen - looks for the protein that is first created during acute HIV infection. The p24 band on the Western Blot would be the first one to change. Many doctors do not utilize this as the PCR is more sensitive.

I am not familiar with the bDNA test so I can't help you there. Stick to the Johns-Hopkins site, The Body and Aegis for accurate and non confusing information.

I hope this has been helpful. Stay strong.


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