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HCV positive testing
Sep 30, 2010

Hi Doctor, My HIV positive husband tested positive for HCV last summer (2009) during a checkup of his HIV numbers. Subsequent re-testing (both PCR and I assume Elisa based) tests were negative. During this positive test, he had an active syfilis infection).

Now, 1 year and 2 negative screening tests later, he again is positive for HCV.

How likely are false-positive reactions for HCV - any factors that can make this worse? Are some people more prone to false-positive reactions against HCV tests?

Yours, B

Response from Dr. McGovern

False positive tests for HCV antibody occur in only a few percentage of people. The chance of a false positive test also depends on the population being studied. For example, among blood donors there are a few percentage of people who may test positive by antibody. But confirmatory testing with a specific test called RIBA will show that they are truly negative. The chance of a false positive test goes down in a patient population with a high likelihood of having had HCV in the past (eg, injection drug users who shared drug paraphernalia).

I think your husband needs a HCV RNA test - of the virus itself - and a RIBA test to settle once and for all as to whether he has HCV infection or not. He may have had these tests already...You can discuss with the doctor.



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