May 15, 2002
Your question/answer board has been very informative to me learning about HIV infection. Thank you for your efforts.
I recently developed flu like symptoms and visited my doctor. He ran an HIV test (as well as many others) which came back negative. He then recommended to do a viral load test. The viral load came back positive with 500K copies. My doctor said I am in acute infection and the virus has not yet made antibodies, therefore explains a negative hiv antibody test. I have since had another viral load test which increased to 750K copies and cd4 985, 35. I have also started anti-viral treatment.
My question is, should I still get an HIV antibody test to confirm my HIV status? I have read that HIV status should not be determined on the basis of viral load tests as they were not designed for that and are sensitive to errors. I also understand I would need to wait the window period (3-6 months) from infection date for a valid reading of an HIV antibody test.
Your response and opinion is great appreciated. Thank you!
Response from Dr. Young
Thanks for your comments and question.
The FDA advises against the indiscriminate use of viral load testing to diagnose HIV infection. However, in the appropriate clinical setting and with corroborative tests (like CD4 counts, p24 antigen)-- the test can be used to establish acute infection.
With regard to the antibody test; I don't think that you need to have one to establish your diagnosis. Most persons like yourself will eventually fully seroconvert, though some only have interminate testing. It might be worth repeating your antibody test in 3-6 months, but likely only for academic reasons.
Good luck, BY
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