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Testing antibodies is not enough!

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th July 2006 03:00 AM

SIR — On June 28, in Health & beauty it was reported that a Mr Waliggo had lost eight partners but still tests HIV-negative and is planning to marry another one.

SIR — On June 28, in Health & beauty it was reported that a Mr Waliggo had lost eight partners but still tests HIV-negative and is planning to marry another one. My advice to Waliggo and others like him is that they should use condoms with the new partners. It is possible for a person to infect many partners and still test negative. The most commonly used HIV testing method in Uganda is the one which tests antibodies. It is because these are cheaper than other methods like Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). However, the problem is that some people do not produce detectable antibodies and although they are infected and infectious they will test negative to antibody tests. Waliggo could be one of these. That is why discordance should be treated with caution. A couple may think they are discordant when actually both of them are infected except that one does not produce detectable antibodies. Scientists should take keen interest in such cases and should subject the one testing negative to other tests like PCR or even move sophisticated tests which test the actual presence of the virus.
This is not to say that whoever is exposed to HIV is infected. I request the government to subsidise the costs of expensive tests like PCR so that those who have been exposed to HIV but test negative could be subjected to these tests for confirmatory purposes.

Fred Mubiyi
Kampala

Testing antibodies is not enough!

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