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How reliable is the PCR test for hiv?

3 doctors weighed in
Dr. Joel Gallant
Internal Medicine - Infectious Disease
2 doctors agree

In brief: Serology better

The pcr (viral load) is generally not recommended as a diagnostic test; it's used in people who are already known to have HIV to monitor therapy.
The HIV serology (antibody test) is preferred for diagnosis, as pcr is more subject to false positives and false negatives. However, pcr can be used to diagnose acute retroviral syndrome (primary infection). It should be very high at that stage.

In brief: Serology better

The pcr (viral load) is generally not recommended as a diagnostic test; it's used in people who are already known to have HIV to monitor therapy.
The HIV serology (antibody test) is preferred for diagnosis, as pcr is more subject to false positives and false negatives. However, pcr can be used to diagnose acute retroviral syndrome (primary infection). It should be very high at that stage.
Dr. Joel Gallant
Dr. Joel Gallant
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