Question

Sir: What is HIV-2? Do you know about some facts and figures? Do RNA PCR tests detect it?

Answer

HIV-2 is a virus of the same family as HIV-1 that is transmitted in the same way. However, it is limited in its native geographic distribution to Western Africa or to people who have come in contact with someone from this part of the world. Disease progression is much slower. Although current routine antibody screening tests detect it, a special RNA test is needed to measure viral load, as the clinical test being used to measure HIV-1 in clinical settings would not pick up HIV-2.