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Lupus and false positives??
May 1, 2010

After living a year thinking she was positive . . and finally getting her to face her fears and go the HIV clinic in our county . . . and them asking lots of questions about who, when and how she was "diagnosed" after the blood work came back . . .we are told she is not positive.

She had three previous blood tests saying she was positive but at undetectable levels. The clinic has done additional blood work to confirm this, referring to the test as "the gold standard of tests" and telling us it will take three weeks to be certain but we will be certain.

The good doctor at the clinic suggested that perhaps the Lupus caused the false positives. But also said, I don't know maybe what you have is a miracle. What do you think? have you heard of this before?

Response from Dr. Frascino


A miracle? Nah. There is a much more logical explanation. A number of people will test repeatedly positive on HIV-antibody tests year after year, even though they are not HIV infected. The reason is that HIV-antibody tests do not actually test for the virus, but rather assay for a circulating protein (antibody) produced by the body's immune system. There are a number of conditions that produce cross-reacting nonspecific antibodies that can potentially screw up an HIV-antibody test, giving either an indeterminate or, in some cases, a false-positive result. These conditions would include collagen-vascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, lymphoma, liver disease, multiple sclerosis, past pregnancy, injection drug use, recent immunization, and being on kidney dialysis. These indeterminate or false-positive tests are generally discovered very quickly by obtaining more specific HIV testing. Your "gold standard of test" will undoubtedly reveal a definitive HIV-negative status. Write back and let me know. I'll post your follow-up for our forum readers. Your story is another excellent reason why folks shouldn't immediately freak out if they happen to test positive on an HIV screening test. Your partner felt she was HIV positive for a whole year when a simple follow-up test, which would have been run if she had the proper follow-up, would have conclusively proven she was HIV negative!

Dr. Bob

Just diagnosed
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