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HIV and AIDS

Are There Additional Tests For Testing Possible HIV+ Individuals?

04/29/2005

Question:

Are there any alternative tests available for patients strongly suspected to be HIV positive, but test negative on standard HIV test. It turns out the patient did have HIV but continued to test negative, why?

Answer:

HIV-1 and HIV-2 are closely related retroviruses, and the antibody test for HIV-1/HIV-2 will has excellent sensitivity and specificity except for the rare Group O "clade" (subgroup) of HIV-1. Group O is mainly found in central Africa and in infected emigrants from that region. If there was a strong clinical suspicion of HIV infection, but the screening antibody test was negative, the first step would be to run additional tests, looking to see if some of the HIV antibodies were present and if HIV virus could be measured in the blood by different tests, as well as a measure of the immune function as measured by lymphocyte subsets ("CD4 count").

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Response by:

Lisa A Haglund, MD Lisa A Haglund, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati