Three methods for the detection of human cytomegalovirus DNA using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) were compared with and without a wax-mediated hot start. This process yielded a 10-fold increase in the sensitivity of the detection of specific DNA. The PCR method chosen as most suitable for subsequent testing, when applied to urine samples from patients with AIDS, gave a higher proportion of positive results than either the shell vial assay or conventional cell culture. On the basis of these results, further work is being carried out to evaluate the value of the PCR, when the results are expressed quantitatively, in the laboratory diagnosis of cytomegalovirus infection in patients with AIDS.
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