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HIV Testing and autoimmune disordersr

Apr 29, 2001

Dr. Holodniy, I'd really appreciate it if you would clarify something for me. I am an RN who is concerned about a possible occupational exposure in January. When I got home after my shift, I noticed a cut on the pad of my thumb. It could have been just a crack from the cold weather. I often get dry, cracked skin in the winter, but usually on my knuckles. Anyway, I've convinced myself that I somehow got cut with a dirty sharp (I did start an I.V. on someone of unknown status) and didn't feel it, or had the unintact skin and got blood in the opening and never noticed it. I didn't report anything to Employee Health, because I honestly could not say an incident occurred. Now, of course, it's too late to seek guidance from them. Besides, I haven't taken any shifts lately, and I'm sure they will get tired of asking me to work. I'm trying to gather the courage to be tested, but in reading two of your recent responses, I'm confused. I have an autoimmune thyroid condition (Hashimoto's).#1 When you say autoimmune disorders can cause false positives, do you mean on the ELISA or the Western Blot also? #2Is this a common occurrence? #3If both tests are involved, what alternative test do you suggest I pursue? #4I've had more than two pregnancies. Will this affect the accuracy of the screening tests? (Read on the Safe Sex Forum that this might happen) #5If the screening tests are OK to use in my situation, can I stop at six months? I posed these questions to the Safe Sex Expert as per the directions on the bottom of this page.(Direct questions there if one is unsure of HIV status) That was a week ago. Please guide me in the right direction. I am too scared to talk to anyone about this.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

#1. ELISA. The number of false positive western blots is extremely small. #2. NO. #3. See #1. #4. NO. #5. Yes.

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