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Could my meds have caused false negative ELISA's?

Sep 23, 2003

Dr. Horwath, I keep seeing references to some antidepressants suppressing the immune system and HIV antibody production - this raises the question whether they can cause false negative HIV ELISA tests.

I am on 20 mgs of Remeron per night, 10 mgs. of Lexapro per day, .75 mgs of Risperdal per day and .5mg of chlonazapan twice a day. I also take 7mg codein/750mg acetaminophen of Vicodin two to three times a day for very painfullymph nodes.

Is there any chance that any or some of the above meds could have caused false negative ELISA tests 6 and 8 months after a moderate risk exposure? I have continued viral symptoms and non HIV causes have also been ruled out. My wife and I would like to try for a child, so there is a lot riding on the reliability of the ELISA tests.

Your advice on the possible effect of my meds on the reliability of my ELISA's would be very appreciated.

Many thanks.

Response from Dr. Horwath

I have no reason to believe that these medications could cause a false negative on the ELISA test.

The ELISA test is highly sensitive, and very unlikly to miss a true HIV antibody response. The main question in testing is making sure enough time has passed to allow for an antibody response to develop. Certainly 6-8 months is well within the usual range. For example, the CDC guidelines for testing following occupational exposure suggest serial testing out to 6 months.

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