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J Infect Dis. 1998 Feb;177(2):320-30.

Association between culturable human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in semen and HIV-1 RNA levels in semen and blood: evidence for compartmentalization of HIV-1 between semen and blood.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Washington, School of Medicine, Seattle 98195-7110, USA.


Both qualitative and quantitative virologic measurements were compared between blood and genital compartments for 128 men infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) to address several controversial issues concerning HIV-1 shedding in semen and to obtain further information about the distribution of virus between these two compartments. Evidence for viral compartmentalization was suggested by earlier studies that noted the poor correlation between blood and seminal virus load, phenotype, and genotype. Further support for this viral compartmentalization was based on the following observations between semen and blood: lack of association between culturability of virus in semen and viral RNA level in blood, discordant distribution of viral phenotypes, discordant viral RNA levels, a weak correlation between viral RNA level in semen and CD4 cell count in blood, differences in the biologic variability of viral RNA levels, and differences in the virus load response to antiretroviral therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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