HIV PCR -- screening

Don Lee don_lee at
Wed May 31 12:51:54 EST 1995

yelnif at (Yelnif) wrote:
> Basically, PCR amplifies DNA.  The only requirement for this is that one
> molecule of target DNA be present and the terminal 15-20 nucleotide known
> (on each end of the target DNA).  PCR amplifies the DNA between the known
> sequences.  Because HIV integrates its genetic material into the host
> chromosome and the entire sequence of the HIV genome is known, it is
> possible to identify contaminate blood samples.  So, there is no "window,"
> if the HIV DNA is present it will be identified.
> -Jim Finley, grad student-virology, UAB

Not having followed the original thread, I think the "window period" refers to time when the amount of HIV RNA or DNA can be picked up by PCR.
This should depend on the lower limit of detection of the PCR and how many copies of HIV genetic information is being circulated around.  For example, if you suppose that the PCR can detect to even just one copy of RNA or DNA, then could it be possible that there is still enough HIV genome circulating in the body but just not sampled in your test tube.

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