What is the role of RT-PCR in the management of HIV infection?

Updated: Jul 27, 2020
  • Author: Shelley A Gilroy, MD, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Viral load in peripheral blood is used as a surrogate marker of viral replication rate. This is a surrogate because most of the viral replication occurs in the lymph nodes rather than in the peripheral blood.

The test is a quantitative amplification of the viral RNA using nucleic acid sequence-based amplification (NASBA), reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), or similar technologies. Quantitative viral-load assays should not be used as a diagnostic tool because several false-positive misdiagnoses have been reported in the literature.

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