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How reliable is a HIV ELISA test vs a western blot?

3 doctors weighed in
Dr. Martin Raff
Internal Medicine - Infectious Disease
2 doctors agree

In brief: HIV testing

Elisa assay is quite sensitive (will detect antibodies best) but the western blot is more specific and confirm the results of the elisa if it was positive, as being either truly positive or false-positive.
There are several other circumstances in which conditions other than HIV will produce a positive elisa assay. If there are symptoms and too early for antibody test, then PCR for RNA is best.

In brief: HIV testing

Elisa assay is quite sensitive (will detect antibodies best) but the western blot is more specific and confirm the results of the elisa if it was positive, as being either truly positive or false-positive.
There are several other circumstances in which conditions other than HIV will produce a positive elisa assay. If there are symptoms and too early for antibody test, then PCR for RNA is best.
Dr. Martin Raff
Dr. Martin Raff
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