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Help! problem with HIV results for pregnancy blood test
Nov 22, 2010

Hi Doc, last monday i went for my routine pregnancy blood test, when the result came back it asked me to re-do the test in 4 to 6 weeks. because out of all hiv-related tests one seemed to be reactive while all of the others are negative. it says that since the result was inconsistent, a re-test is required after 4 weeks. I was completely shocked and scared. I'm not high-risked, my husband and I were each other's first and only partner, and I did not have any blood transfusion and I can not recall any incident where i came in contact with any blood! And now i am happyly pregnant, but never expected this to be a problem¡ Please help me, I know no one will know for sure before the 2nd test. but how common is this sitaution where they have inconsistent results? and is the second test will be conclusive? I can't keep my mind off it, don't know how am i going to make it through the next few weeks¡

Response from Dr. McGowan

HI and Congratulations on your pregnancy!

Having a positive screening test with a negative confirmatory test is not uncommon. It is more common to have a false positive test (testing positive but really being negative) during pregnancy, or for people on kidney dialysis or with hemophilia. The initial or "screening" test for HIV is looking for a type of antibody in the blood, it is done by a technique called ELISA (or EIA). This test is meant to be very needs to pick up as many truly positive paople as possible. Along with that it may also pick up some negative people falsely. This is important because we really do not want to miss any real positives. Any positive screening test is always followed by a "confirmatory" test, which looks for multiple antibodies against HIV. A peson who is really infected will have many types of antibodies attacking different parts of the virus. If these are not present it is either a false positive screening test or just too early in the infection for the other antibodies to show up (it takes 2-4 weeks for these to develop).

Therefore, if we screen positive on ELISA but negative on the confirmaatory we repaet after a few weeks. If this is an early infection the other antibodies will show up and the confirmatory test will now be positive too. If not and than it was a false positive screen. There are any reasons for a false positive screen...the body makes an antibody directed against something else and it happens to be picked up by the test...and it has nothing to do with HIV.

Best, hope this clarifies things.


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