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The diagnosis of AIDS is based on clinical assessment and laboratory investigation. In the context of prevention of HIV infection, the recognition of HIV carriers is of much greater importance than the diagnosis of ‘AIDS’. All patients in the above categories must be regarded as infectious.

The laboratory investigation of HIV infection can be considered in 3 broad areas, viz tests for evidence of HIV infection or exposure, tests for immune deficiency and tests for opportunistic infections, malignancy etc. Only the first two areas are considered here.

Tests for HIV infection

The virus can be isolated but the technique is not available in routine diagnostic laboratories. Tests for viral antigen are becoming available. Tests for antibody using immunofluorescence, radioimmunoassay, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), immunodiffusion and immunoprecipitation have been developed.

The Western blot technique is used for confirmation. The test identifies particular antibodies to specific viral antigenic proteins.


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