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I tested negative in recent years, is this common?
Jan 28, 2007

I found out that I was HIV+ last October after a colonoscopy found Candida of the Esphogus. Turned out my cd4 count was 177 and my v-load was >100k. In August of '05 and most likely another time, I tested negative (blood test). My Dr., whose name is in HIV treatment lit across the USA, says without a doubt that I've been positive definitely for 5 years and maybe up to 10. I always tested at our county health clinic where most of the gay and straight community in my city goes to get tested. How common are tests for HIV showing negative in actually positive people? Have any studies been done?

Response from Dr. Wohl

A negative HIV test in 2005 suggests strongly that you were infected subsequent to that test. Certainly, it is also possible that you were infected just before the test in 2005 as the antibodies that the body makes following infection with HIV can take up to 3 weeks to become detectable by standard HIV antibody tests.

Most data suggest that a high viral load can predict a more rapid decline in CD4 cells. So you could have conceivable that you were infected a year or so ago given your viral load seems to be very high.

The HIV antibody test is actually a pair of tests. The first one done is the ELISA. It is very sensitive, which means it is very good at picking up antibodies to HIV - so good that it over calls and sometimes says they are present even when they are not. Therefore, all positive or indeterminate results are tested with the second test called a western blot. This test is very specific, that is, when it says HIV is present it almost always is. Together these tests are diagnostic of HIV infection once the body following infection produces antibodies.

DW



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