How are viral cultures used in the detection of HIV?

Updated: Mar 05, 2020
  • Author: Delia M Rivera, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Viral cultures are obtained by co-cultivating potentially infected and uninfected mononuclear cells together to promote viral replication. Every few days, the culture is assayed for HIV p24 antigen. Positive results on 2 sequential p24 antigen detection assays indicate infection. This technique requires a mean of 7-14 days to perform, but it may require as long as 28 days.

A positive virologic result should be confirmed with repeat virologic testing with a second specimen as soon as possible after the first result is available.

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