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lab test result question
May 16, 2004

Hello DR.

First off I would like to say how great you are for helping so many people with serious to crazy questions and still being polite.

Ok I got a question, I got my HIV results and they came back negaitve or non-reactive, ok my Dr. says im negative. Now I got tested due to a scare 2 years ago. now it says all this stuff about no anti bodies found for hiv 1 (htlv III) but it goes on to say "does not preclude previous exposure or infection with hiv 1" What does that mean? and why cant they rephrase that in a way that I and others can understand?

Any help would be awesome!

Thanks DR.

sincerly, Dan

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Dan,

That statement on the bottom of your lab report is there to help explain the limitations of the test. For instance, you might have had an HIV exposure last week that resulted in your becoming HIV positive. However your immune system has not yet kicked in to make enough anti-HIV antibodies to be detected on the ELISA test. Consequently, your test would read "negative," even though you are really HIV positive. The test has no way of determining when your last potential exposure was, so it says "does not preclude previous exposure or infection with HIV-1." It's meant to inform folks that there is indeed a "window period" during which the test is not accurate.

Sorry for the confusing medical jargon. You should see our secret physician's handshake!

Bottom line, Dan: If your last potential exposure was two years ago and your HIV antibody test is now negative, you are definitively HIV negative. Yell WOO-HOO!

Stay well.

Dr. Bob



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