There are three tests currently available for measuring viral load: the AMPLICOR HIV-1 MONITOR Test, also called RT-PCR, from Roche Diagnostics; the branched DNA assay (bDNA) and Nucleic Acid Sequence Based Amplification (NASBA).
Only the AMPLICOR HIV-1 MONITOR Test is currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
The tests vary slightly in how sensitive they are. The AMPLICOR HIV-1 MONITOR Test is the most sensitive test and can measure as few as 50 copies/mL when used with the UltraSensitive sample preparation method and up to 750,000 when used with the Standard sample preparation method, the bDNA test can detect from 500 copies/mL to ten million although a new test is currently in beta sites which can detect 50 copies, while NASBA can pick up viral loads between 80 to 400 and ten million copies/mL.
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