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HIV-2 tests
Feb 1, 2004

I know you're probably thinking that answering that one HIV-2 question has stirred up worried well anxiety about possibly having gone under the radar with HIV-1 specific tests.

But I was also exposed to someone who takes frequent trips to England, and I have a whole "worried well" story that still has every doctor I see baffled. I'm symptomatic with lymphandanopathy, weight loss, and rash, and it all began several weeks after this exposure. Each doctor has had another bogus excuse for me not to worry about HIV-2. Some told me that the HIV-1 test picks up HIV-2 as well. Others have told me that unless I have slept with someone from Africa, I don't need to worry about it. Well, now I see that HIV-2 is becoming more common in England. Now tell me, are these HIV-1 tests really sensitive to HIV-2 antibodies as well? Just how sensitive are they?

Response from Dr. Pierone

I spoke to some laboratory experts to better answer this question and this is what I came up with. Current EIA tests for HIV-1 have some cross-reactivity with HIV-2 and will often show positive for individuals with HIV-2 infection. Some commercially available tests specifically test for both HIV-1 and HIV-2; in the future this dual test will likely become the standard.

In your situation, simply have an HIV-2 antibody test performed. Good luck!



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