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HIV and AIDS

What is the bDNA Test And Is It Accurate?

12/02/2002

Question:

I have heard that the bDNA test is the most accurate HIV test. What is this test? Is it the most accurate test?

Answer:

There are three different technical ways to measure HIV directly in the bloodstream. One is called PCR. One is called NASBA. One is called bDNA. Each use the same basic idea of directly measuring genetic products either DNA or RNA from the virus. The most commonly used test is the HIV-1 RNA RT-PCR. This measures the amount of HIV RNA in the bloodstream. Another test is the bDNA test which measures the amount of HIV DNA using a branched-chain assay test. There are not that many studies that actually compare these technologies. I think there is not that much difference between the tests for most people with HIV-1. Some types of HIV-1 from Africa may not show up on one test (PCR) but might show up on the bDNA test. Other than that, there is no real difference in their accuracy or precision. 

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Response by:

Carl   Fichtenbaum, MD Carl Fichtenbaum, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati