HIV transmission from a non-detectable positive
Jan 13, 2004
I have heard some people with HIV referred to as being "non-detectable positive". Does this mean that people can be HIV positive but have such a low viral load that they test negative? If so, can such people transmit HIV? In other words, does one need to be concerned about getting HIV from someone (in a monogamous relationship) who has been very promiscuous, yet tests negative?
Response from Dr. Frascino
You are confusing two different tests here. The tests for detecting whether or not someone is HIV-positive (ELISA tests, antibody tests, confirmatory Western Blot tests) will always remain positive in a person infected with the virus. The "non-detectable" terminology refers to a completely different type of test that measures viral load (how actively the virus is replicating). These tests can measure down to a certain level. Below that, we say a person is "non-detectable." That person would still test HIV-positive, despite his/her non-detectable viral load. I hope that answers your questions.
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