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How Accurate is my test
Sep 7, 1999

I am relived to say after a few months of worrying I tested HIV negative. I appreciate all the support that is given here and the prompt way you respond to questions. I am 20 years old and this was the only source that I depended on as it was hard to ask questions to family and friends at this time. I had the testing done 10 weeks after exposure, but I was told testing is usually done at 14 weeks after. How accurate are my tests? I am still worried the resuilts could change but I don't want to have to worry about getting tested again. Also, someone I have had unprotected sex with has told someone else he tested negative for the virus. Are people very likely to bring up the subject and say they are negative for no reason just because they are scared and are trying to convince themselves that they are negative even if they haven't really been tested?

Response from Mr. Shernoff

There is no simple answer to why anyone would talk about being HIV negative. You raise an important and disturbing consideration which is that people do not always tell the truth, especially about something as highly charged as their HIV status. Some people who have not been tested do indeed lie in order to convince thier sexual partner that it is fine for them to have unprotected sex. Some people lie about being HIV positive. There are a myriad of emotional, psychological and social reasons these people use to justify to themselves why it is permissible for them to lie.

Nobody can control what another person tells us or whether or not they are telling us the truth. The more important question here is why would you place yourself at risk for becoming infected with HIV by having unprotected sex with a person who only tells you that he is uninfected? The additional thrill and intimacy of having unprotected sex is not worth the risk of sero-converting.

Even with all the current HIV treatments available, having HIV is no picnic and should be avoided. So, my challenge for you is to figure out how you can maintain an active and satisfying sex life without placing yourself in danger of getting HIV? The answer definitely does NOT include trusting your health and life to another person's assurances of not being infected. Please think this over alot before you place yourself in a situation where you could contract HIV.

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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