Specificity of most EIA tests
Jun 4, 2010
Hello, Thank you so much for your help. I recently got a reactive Hep C antibody test from a hospital during a routine pre-employment screening. I have almost no risk factors for the disease. I do have a tattoo, but it was done from a reputable shop in 1993. I've never used needles of any sort, and my sexual practices have been almost exclusively safe, save for a couple of select, trusted partners. I will now have to wait 10 days for the RIBA results. My N.P. said that the clinic had 3 false positives in the past 2 weeks alone! I am wondering what the false positive rates tend to be for the antibody tests done for routine screening. Thanks!
Response from Dr. McGovern
The exact rate of a false positive test always depends on the patient population being tested. For example, among injection drug users, most tests will be truly positive and few will be false positive. However, among healthy persons with no risk factors, the risk of a false positive test rises to about 10% in some studies.
So, if you are a low risk, as it appears you are, I would suspect you indeed do have a false positive test and the RIBA will confirm that.
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