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testing: HIV 1 vs. HIV 2

Dec 8, 2000

Hello Ryan. This is really a test question but I was hoping you could help me out. I am having a really tough time getting any answers. In April 2000 I was tested (with a negative result) for HIV. As time has gone by, my anxiety has continued, and I have started wondering if the EIA I had is able to detect HIV 1 and HIV 2. I live and work in New York. While I do not know of having any contact with a person from West Africa etc (where HIV 2 is more prevalent), one of my concerns is an occupational exposure that occurred about 5 years ago. The test site has given me conflicting information (depending on who I talk to some say the test was for both 1 and 2, others say only for 1). I did find out that the lab through which I was tested uses EIA kits manufactured by Abbott. An Abbott rep told me that their kits that only detect HIV 1 were in fact pulled from the market in Jan. 2000 and replaced with HIV 1/HIV 2. She thought it was "extremely" likely that I was tested with the 1/2 kit. But if I was tested in mid April 2000, how can I be sure that they used the newer kit? Maybe they had the older ones in stock and wanted to use them up. The lab is useless in giving me information (and are in fact unkind to put it nicely on the phone)(Quest Diagnostics). I think that this is information that I have a right to. I want to know what I was tested for. I would hate to think that I went through all of that to be tested with a kit that was "on the verge" of being pulled from the market. I would find being tested again to be EXTREMELY stressful. I know this is not a "safe sex" question, but could you help me out.

Response from Mr. Kull

It is very difficult to guess whether you had an HIV-2 test back in April. The only way you could really know is to locate your actual test result and find out from the lab report. In some cases that might be hard to do.

The odds are against you being infected with HIV-2. There is a good chance that you were tested for HIV-2 if you were tested in New York State and the tests used were manufactured by Abbott. The New York City Department of Health has been testing all samples for HIV-1 and 2 for at least a year now. There is also a 70% chance that an HIV-1 test would have detected HIV-2 antibodies if you were infected.

All of these factors put the odds in your favor. However, you will never truly know unless you either get a copy of the original lab report or get tested again for HIV-2.


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