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Undetectable
Aug 8, 2007

Does 'undetectable' mean the virus cant be found??? Im quite worried now, hearing that term. What if a guy and I were dating, about to get married, and decided to get an HIV test to ensure we are both healthy. Can the HIV test come back negative, even though one person has HIV, and is hiding the fact that hes taking meds for it??

Response from Dr. Sherer

No, once you have a positive HIV antibody test, it is positive for life. HIV antibodies are the immunoglobulins that your body produces in response to an HIV infection.

The "undetectable" refers to the amount of virus particles of RNA that are directly measured in the bloodstream, i.e. the viral load as measured by the RNA PCR test, which has been shown to be an important prognostic marker for future HIV disease progression in people who are known to be HIV infected. The higher the viral load, the more likely is HIV disease progression.

This measure falls below the ability of the test to measure it - hence the term undetectable - in a person who is successfully treated with HIV medicines, but HIV is still alive and replicating in such a person, e.g. in tissue cells, for example in the central nervous system and the goands - in a person with an undetectable viral load in the plasma.

So if you're dating and getting an HIV test before getting married, a negative HIV antibody test does reliably mean that you were free of infection three-six months ago.

I urge you to talk to your doctor about your concerns.


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