Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for proviral DNA (PCR -DNA) is a important test that can detect âproviral DNA during window âperiod, (before 4 weeks) can âdifferentiate latent HIV infection from active viral transcription âand can quantitate the copy ânumber of HIV DNA âwhen used with external standards (e.g. viral load âassays). â The DNA PCR is the absolute most sensitive test for HIV (100%) In terms of measurement capacity, it âcan detect as little as 10 copies of proviral DNA per milliliter of whole blood. â
But usually PCR tests are advised only in high risk conditions, it is not needed in low risk situations. Eg âfor high risk âsituations include traumatic risk, needle injections, condom break with a known HIV âpositive partner, symptomatic âacute HIV seroconversion, and babies born to HIV-positive mothers. â
Since PCR tests are very expensive, and need a very sophisticated laboratory set up, they cannot be used as a routine screening test for HIV. In addition, when much cost effective and easy tests like ELISA and western blot tests with sensitivity of about 100% are available, there is no need for higher end tests like PCR.
Hence PCR tests are not approved for use as a screening tests for HIV.
"Ask a Doctor" questions are answered by certified physicians and other medical professionals.
For more information about experts participating in the "Ask a Doctor" Network, please visit our
medical experts page.
You may also visit our HIV and AIDS , for moderated patient to patient support and information.
The information provided on eHealth Forum is designed to improve, not replace, the relationship between a patient and his/her own physician.
Personal consultation(s) with a qualified medical professional is the proper means for diagnosing any medical condition.