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Was Happy...but not anymore :(
Oct 23, 2012


I have been to this forum before and really just want some of type reassurance but can't seem to get any at all. I had a possible exposure in 2004....EIGHT years ago. The reason I emphasized the eight years is because I keep getting the standard answer that the guideline for HIV testing is "at least 90 days post exposure". I waited again, eight years...mainly because of fear. I got tested at a clinic that was offering free HIV test using the Oral Rapid HIV test. My test came back negative and I was excited until I started reading mixed reviews about this test on the Internet. I read that there is one false negative for every twelve true negatives....but what causes this? I have received several answers about the test and that my test results are conclusive. I was fine with that until....I had a recent visit to my OB/GYN. The nursed asked me about STD testing and I said that I would like to have testing done for other STDs but not HIV because I just had a rapid oral HIV test done and it was negative. She quickly replied that the test is not accurate and that if it was a good test then they would use it there at my healthcare facility.

I answered by saying that from what I understand the test is 99.8% percent accurate and if it was not accurate then why do they allow people to use it? She stated that the test is accurate according to the manufacturer and maybe they allow people to use it because they are trying to make money (WHAT!!!) I was immediately upset. During the entire visit, I was completely doctor asked me what was wrong and I couldn't even speak. I got so upset that I ended up in the hospital later on that night. I had a full blown panic attack, I am still having a few anxiety issues. I am just confused. I really need some help right now....I mean I am confused right now. I know that people say that "if in doubt, then retest". What most people don't understand is that it took me eight years to get up the nerve to take one test and now because of conflicting information and the comments of one nurse....I still have to live in fear? I just have questions that no one can seem to answer and if they do...the answers are not specific or understandable. I hope that you can help me. If I am better understanding of this test and it's accuracy then I would feel more comfortable about taking the blood test. I am not trying to be pushy, I am just trying to understand...that's all. Thank you

1. Could you please explain to me sensitivity/specificity of the Oral HIV test and what is the difference between the two? 2. Are HIV antibodies are in the Oral fluid of all HIV infected people and do they decrease in oral fluid over time or are they always there? 3.Can I feel comfortable in my Negative given the fact that I tested WAY outside of the window period? 4. What are some of the reasons that people receive false negatives using the Oral HIV test?

Thank you so much for reading this. I know that it is extremely long, I am just trying to understand and make it without ending in somebodies physc ward. Thank you and God Bless!

Response from Dr. McGowan

I am sorry that you were given wrong information at your OB/GYN office.

The information that you had looked up is correct. The OraQuick oral fluid HIV test correctly identified 99.3% of people who were infected with HIV (sensitivity) and 99.8 % of people who were not infected with HIV (specificity). HIV antibodies would be present in all people infected with HIV, usually beginning about 2 weeks after infection. In a person not ttreated for the infection the levels would not go down over time. In fact they increase as the immune reaction matures. You should be very comfortable with the negative test. The window period is extended to 3-6 months for testing not because we are afraid you will test too late, it is to be sure you do not stop testing too soon. It can take up to several weeks for some people to develop antibodies after they are exposed and infected with HIV, so if you test negative at 2 or 4 weeks, for example, you may still be infected. So we recommend testing again at 3-6 months after exposure to be sure. By 8 years 100% of any persons infected would be positive. False negative test results would mostly be due to testing too soon.

Hope this helps. Joe

HIV and Conceiving
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