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HIV testing that only looks at a patient's antibodies may fail to identify many people who are infected with the disease. A new study from researchers at the University of California in San Diego has found that nucleic acid HIV testing is much more reliable.
A team of investigators from the college's School of Medicine studied more than 3,000 patients who sought HIV testing at local community health clinics. They found that nearly one quarter of patients who tested positive for the virus were identified through nucleic acid testing.
Individuals in the early stages of infection have the highest chances of spreading the disease to others. However, the virus is the most difficult to detect at that point.
For this reason, lead researcher Sheldon Morris said that it is important for more testing facilities to incorporate greater use of nucleic acid.
"Extending the use of nucleic acid testing to routine HIV testing programs might help decrease the HIV incidence rate by identifying persons with acute infection that would otherwise be missed through routine screening," said Morris.
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