How is HIV infection diagnosed?

Updated: Sep 19, 2018
  • Author: David J Cennimo, MD, FAAP, FACP, AAHIVS; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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HIV infection can be diagnosed based on detection of antibodies that are directed against the proteins encoded by the 3 major genes, the detection of the p24 antigen, the viral nucleic acid, and, finally, by means of culturing the virus. However, in clinical practice, the most common method for diagnosing established HIV infection is by performing a screening test (eg, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [ELISA]) and by confirming a positive result with a supplementary test. The result of the confirmatory test is reported as positive, negative, or indeterminate.

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