Meds, Mind, Body & Benefits > Questions About Treatment & Side Effects

"Undetectable" but testing HIV+?


I was wondering whether someone who had undetectable viral load due to taking HIV meds would still test positive for HIV. Does anyone know the answer to this one? Just curious.

Yes they would.  Antibodies to HIV would still be present, and would be picked up by the Elisa/Western Blot antibody tests.  Additionally, DNA PCR tests would show proviral DNA to be present, even with an undetectable RNA PCR.

Thanks for the info!

And "undetectable" doesn't mean that there is no more HIV in your body, just that the test isn't sensitive enough, beyond a certain point, to register what level of viremia is present. The two commonly used RNA PCR tests in clinical settings have detectability thresholds of 400 copies and 50 copies. (The former is generally used if the patient isn't on meds, assuming that his/her viral load will almost certainly be higher than 400; the latter is used in patients taking ART.) Super-duper-ultrasensitive assays used in research labs can now detect down to one copy.



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