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Laboratory Diagnosis of HIV Infection

Virology Tests for HIV Infection

Slide 6

October 2009

Virologic tests are also available for the diagnosis of HIV infection. Early in the epidemic of HIV infection, the first tests that were available for diagnosis or detection of HIV are viral cultures using CD4 cells; these are the human helper T cells that are infected by HIV viruses. And, using these viral cultures, one is able to detect production of viral p24 antigens in the supernatant of cell cultures from CD4 cell lines.

Later on, when molecular tests are more refined, we have polymerase chain reaction or PCR assays for qualitative and quantitative detection of HIV-1 and -2. For qualitative PCR assays, one could detect HIV-1 proviral DNA. This is the DNA that is incorporated into the CD4 whole cells, DNA that belong to HIV-1 viral genome. One could also detect a combination of HIV proviral DNA and RNA and also laboratory-developed assays, particularly in certain research investigator laboratories, one could also design a qualitative detection of HIV-2 RNA. For quantitative assays, there are commercially available and FDA- approved assays for quantifying HIV-1 RNA, and then there are laboratory-developed assays for quantifying HIV-2 RNA.

Two other commercial laboratory tests available utilize transcription-mediated amplification for qualitative detection of HIV-1 RNA, such as the Gen-Probe Aptima assay for diagnostic purposes, and the branched DNA method from Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, which utilizes signal amplification for quantitation of HIV-1 RNA.

Virology Tests for HIV


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