HIV PCR Testing Offers Most Accurate and Sensitive Results
The most recent statistics released by the World Health Organization indicate that an estimated 2.3 million people in India are living with HIV. The country also has the world's fourth largest population suffering from AIDS. The good news is that HIV rates in India have fallen dramatically, dropping by over 3 million in just a two-year time span. That reduction in the virus owes itself in large part to more widespread usage of testing and more accurate and early detection tests, such as HIV PCR testing.
Earlier this month, "The Times of India" released an article titled "DK dist shows decline in HIV cases," DK standing for Dakshina Kannada. With a prevalence rate of 0.75% Dakshina Kannada district runs higher than the national average of 0.69%, but "while 1,245 positive [HIV] cases were detected in 2007, this year there have been only 815 till October end." Sadly, 5% of these 2010 cases were pregnant women who, without HIV-fighting drug treatment, will likely pass on the virus to their babies.
Fortunately, "nevirapine (a drug used to treat the HIV infection) regimen with pregnant women has seen mother-to-child transmission cases come down drastically." Administered to both mother and child within 72 hours of giving birth, nevirapine usage is followed up when the infant reaches six weeks of age with DNA PCR (HIV-1 PCR) testing for the infection. Positive or negative, at the 18 month mark, the HIV antibody (HIV-1 Abs) test is then performed to confirm the initial results.
Why is the HIV PCR test the first course of action? Because it is much more sensitive than other HIV tests. Rather than looking for the HIV antibodies, it looks directly for the pro-viral DNA. As a result of its complexity, the HIV-1 PCR test is 99% accurate at 28 days or more from a suspected contact or exposure. It's this sensitivity that makes PCR the industry's chosen testing format in high-risk professions and situations, including where babies are born to HIV-positive mothers. What's more, this test may detect the presence of HIV before seroconversion, when the virus is much more treatable and the possibility of a cure still exists.
Now the same ultra-sensitive HIV PCR testing that high-risk countries like India trust their newborns' AIDS health with, can be obtained by the general American population anonymously, safely, accurately and with swift results. The national leader in direct to consumer lab testing has partnered with two of the nation's largest laboratories to bring HIV-1 PCR test results to the patient in two to five business days. And unlike the Indian infant scenario, this test ordering and processing facility combines the HIV PCR test with the HIV-1 antibodies test for immediate confirmation of the results.
Short for Polymerase Chain Reaction, the PCR test examines DNA in search of the unique strands of the HIV virus. And because it is a direct test for the presence of the DNA HIV virus, it picks up the DNA of the AIDS virus in an infected person's blood much more sensitively and accurately than the traditional Elisa test.