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HIV 1/2 ?
Apr 3, 2001

Hi Dr. Feinberg: I foolishly had a one time possible exposure 3 years ago (none after that). HIV ELISA was negative at 6 months, 2-3/4 years, and again at 3 years. I've read earlier resposnses in this forum that indicated that the HIV ELISA test used today detects both HIV 1 and 2. The testing clinic that I went to said that the test is only for HIV 1. The 3 year test was done by my physician. He said that after 3 years, the standard HIV ELISA would have been reactive for 1 and 2 if HIV antibodies were present. The person that I was with is not from, nor did he travel to West Africa. My concern is that I don't know his history. In calling the various hotlines (CDC, NIH, and local organizations) I get conflicting information with respect to the sensitivity of the HIV ELISA with respect to HIV 2. I've looked into testing specifically for HIV 2, but the test will only be done if I had direct contact with someone from West Africa, or have travelled to West Africa. I am, perhaps needlessly concerned, but can you (or perhaps one of you collegues) shed some light on testing for HIV 2? Given 3 negative HIV tests, what is the likelihood that I have been infected by HIV 2? I ask this question because I am experiencing symptoms such as night sweats, red spots, and weight loss. Thank you for your response.

Response from Dr. Feinberg

I agree with your doctor: HIV-1 & -2 have enough similar proteins that some bands ought to be positive after 3 years, regardless of which virus a person was infected with. So stop worrying, be happy.

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