What is the sensitivity of viral load tests used in the workup of pediatric HIV infection?

Updated: Mar 05, 2020
  • Author: Delia M Rivera, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Answer

Certain viral-load tests are not sensitive to non-B subtypes of HIV-1. Therefore, viral loads can seem to be considerably reduced if these tests are used to process samples of non-B subtypes.

Reverse-transcription PCR (RT-PCR) and nucleic acid sequence—based amplification (NASBA) of plasma RNA reveal a viral load 2 times that obtained with the branched-chain DNA (bDNA) method. The former methods are sensitive to only HIV-1 subtype B viruses, whereas the bDNA method is sensitive to other HIV-1 subtypes. Switching test methods during treatment is not advised because their molecular technologies differ.


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