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pregnant and terrified hiv test taking too long
Feb 6, 2002

Dear DR Kull,

I'm a 33 year old caucasian woman and am 11 weeks pregnant with my first child. My husband and I were estatic, but now I am absolutely terrified I am HIV positive. I took many blood tests including HIV 2 weeks ago and my doctors office reported to me that my CMV IGM, toxoplasmosis, rpr and CF tests were negative, and that they were waiting for one more. The chemistries and CBC were already back. The only one left is HIV. I just know they must be retesting a positive result, why else would it take that long? In addition , my lymphocyte count was low at 15. Before my husband, I had 2 supposedly monogamous unprotected relationships that each lasted about a year with men in their late 30's. I am the first person my husband has had sex with. I could not live with the knowledge that I infected him. I should have been tested before I got married. Now I have ruined 3 lives in one fell swoop, not to mention all the family that's involved. I am unable to stop crying and am terrified to tell him why. I can't even get myself together. I know I will no longer be a part of his life if this result is positive. All I can think of is how to get rid of myself to prevent the pain, burden and cost to everyone I caused by not getting tested before. Please tell me what you think my chances are for testing positive. I am devastated.

Response from Mr. Kull

First of all, I would encourage you to do your best to hold off on diagnosing yourself as being HIV infected. Unless you are at siginificant risk for infection (had unprotected sex with an HIV positive man or someone at high risk for infection) there is no need for alarm.

Don't assume that your test results are positive just because they are taking a long time. There could be many other reasons why test results could take longer at any given lab, so try not to jump to the worst conclusion.

There is some evidence that some pregnant women may have an indeterminate result (sometimes called inconclusive, meaning that the test could not be interepreted as being positive or negative) on the HIV antibody tests. This does not mean that a negative or positive result is inaccurate; it just means that if your test result is indeterminate, you may want to pursue other screening methods with your doctor to determine your HIV status.

Changes in mood ("mood-swings") are to be expected during pregnancy, and it sounds like you might be experiencing something of that nature. It is important to talk with people about the anxiety that you are feeling: your physician, psychotherapist/psychiatrist, friends who have experienced pregnancy, family, etc.

RMK



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