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Hiv 2- Is it really so rare in the US?
May 3, 1999

Dear Doc: In response to a Hiv 1/2 question on April 26 you stated that the Hiv 1 western blot MAY show one or two bands in reaction to Hiv 2. Is the reality that a person who has been infected with Hiv 2 will test consistently negative with the Hiv 1 screening tests without any indication of a reaction? If the two viruses are related wouldn't there be some kind of reaction that might cause a person to seek further testing? Please let me know if you have any information on this subject. After two years of testing I thought I could finally put my fear of hiv infection behind me despite some ongoing symptoms. Now the panic has again set in with the thought of taking another test to rule out Hiv 2 and the dread that in the interim I may have unknowingly spread the virus. I don't think I can gather the courage to go through it all again.(note: the possible exposure I tested for did not involve a West African or someone who had been with a West African AS FAR AS I KNOW, but it is a question mark) Thank your for any wisdom you can share.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

I would look to the CDC website on HIV-2 disease and testing for further info. Most screening tests today incorporate both HIV-1 and 2 in the ELISA antibody test. These are only issues if the test were positive. MH



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