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please help, indeterminate western blots at 1 year

Jun 4, 2004

i would really appreciate a response to my question. after an encounter with a man who is high risk, i tested positive for TB exposure. i also became quite ill with flu-like symptoms. i tested several times over the next year, with all negative elisa's. however, at 1 year, my doctor mistakenly ordered a western blot instead of an elisa. (i asked for one final test for peace of mind). this came back indeterminate with equivocal bands at p24 and gp160. she ordered a retest 5 weeks later which came back indeterminate with an equivocal band at p24 only. she said to wait 6 more months and do another elisa, which was negative. she said she consulted with someone and there is nothing to worry about. but, i am worried. i am getting married soon and don't want to take any chance of infecting my future husband (we are abstinent and i have not told him about all of this). i'm also worried about what other things i should test for with two indeterminate western blots. what is your opinion?

Response from Dr. Frascino


Your doctor's mistake points out exactly why Western Blots cannot be used for HIV screening. If the correct test, an ELISA, had been ordered, it would have been negative and consequently, a confirmatory Western Blot would never have been run, and all would have been well. Unfortunately, rather than a final test "for peace of mind" (which, by the way, was totally unnecessary and unwarranted), you wound up with anything but peace. I totally agree with your doctor that you are definitively HIV negative. The bands on the Western Blot tests are "falsely positive." No further HIV tests are warranted or indicated. You've had way too many already and they have done nothing but make you worry about a disease that you could not possibly have.

If you have difficulty accepting your negative status, get counseling, not more tests!

Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. It's time to focus on true happiness, rather than on false-positive indeterminate tests.

Dr. Bob

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