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Reliability of PCR to detect genetic sequences from HIV

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a lab technique used for detection of genetic sequences derived from microbial or human genes, so it can be used in microbiological and genetic diagnosis. Its applications in HIV/AIDS has been increasing in the last 15 years, in viral load testing to measure the number of copies of HIV RNA in human plasma, and for detection of HIV DNA (proviral DNA) within human cells. However, there are several studies reporting the low specificity of the method. One of the reasons could be the high genetic diversity of HIV, but other reason could be the presence of endogenous retroviral sequences in human samples. An approach to test the reliability those sequences usually employed in commercial tests, and to study the hypothesis that genetic sequences considered as HIV could be endogenous is presented.