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PCR test result after a month
Aug 18, 2014

Hi there, I am HIV positive. I recently had unprotected sex with someone (I was bottom). Now I am worried about Hep C as I have experienced some symptoms.

It started with shivers, nights sweats for few nights after a week of the incident. Then I had muscle aches, headache, dry cough, fatigue for about 2 weeks. I can eat but I have no real appetite for food( I don't feel hungry and I normally love food). I lost 2.5kg. Recently I also started having back pain between my shoulder blades. It is not constant but it comes and goes. I sometimes have tingling feeling in my hand. I was finding it difficult to focus on my work, and felt easily irritated when I felt fluish.

I had an antibody test done after two weeks of the risk which was negative as expected. Then I had two PCR tests done on 26th and 33rd day of the possible risk. They both came back as negative.

My doctor says it means I don't have it. However, considering all the symptoms I experienced and my appetite still not getting back to normal, I am still worried. I understand PCR test can detect the virus as early as 1-2 weeks. My latest test was done after 5 weeks. Would you say this would be the final result and I can be 100% assured I don't have Hep C, or there is possibility that the virus is not showing in the tests but may be detectable at a later date?

Thank you very much for your time and answer,

V worried patient

Response from Dr. Taylor

With acute (new, within the first 6 months) hep C infection, HCV RNA by PCR levels typically fluctuate widely, and can even transiently be non-detectable. This is why it is important if there is a question of acute hep C, to recheck the HCV viral load by PCR over time. I would suggest being checked for the virus one more time and for the hep C antibody again. Your symptoms are more concerning for an alternate issue though and I would ask your doctor about getting tested for syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections.



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