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Military Testing and unapproved home testing

Sep 25, 2004

Dr. Bob,

I recently donated to your organization and I am proud to do so because I believe that it is a great cause. I have read through ALL of your archives as a means to calm myself down, but I still feel compelled to write.

I wanted to write you because I am having a lot of anxiety at this point because I am currently waiting for HIV test results from the USAF. Here is the story:

On Jan 3 I had an encounter with a female Thai "worker". It was not one of my finest moments and it was something that I have never done before. During this encounter I had the following risks. 1. unprotected receptive oral sex. 2. Sex with a Thai brand Latex condom that did not break. I understand the risk is low, but here are the reasons for my concern. I developed an itch within my urethra afterwards. It caused me to see a doctor and get checked. I tested for Chlamydia and Ghonnorhea and tested negative. I asked about HIV testing and he said it wasn't really necessary, but I was still concerned. Two months later I purchased an unapproved Hiv test over the internet. The results were fuzzy to read and were inconclusive. The site boasts 99.9% accuracy and it freaked me out. After 10 weeks I got an Oraquick oral test and it was negative. This test however was administered on March 15 which was a couple of days before it was officially approved by the FDA.

Now, about 8 months after this "exposure" I had to take a mandatory HIV test in the USAF. I am really scared because they will not tell me the results unless they are positive and there is a long waiting period. I was wondering if you could please offer me some insight.

By the way I am one of the few in the military that are avid Kerry fans.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Military Guy,

Hopefully you learned form the archives that indeed your HIV risks were low. You may also have noted that FDA-"unapproved" HIV tests are unapproved for a reason. It either means they are unreliable (no matter what their site "boasts") or that there has been inadequate testing to determine just how reliable that particular test is. In either case it's definitely a "buyer-beware" scenario. I strongly recommend all FDA-unapproved HIV tests be strictly avoided. Your case is a good example why! Your unapproved test gave "inconclusive" results that have you very worried. The OraQuick (now FDA-approved) test was conclusively negative. There is no doubt in my mind that the "unapproved" test is the unreliable one. Consequently, I would suggest you can relax a bit. Your risks were slight and your approved HIV test was negative at 10 weeks. To be definitely negative, you would need to wait three months or more, but the odds are certainly all in your favor that your eight-month USAF HIV test will be negative as well. We'll send you our best karma that this is indeed what happens, OK? And don't feel that you are only one of a "few" military guys who want to see Bush fired. I get posts on a daily basis from military guys who now realize we are fighting the wrong war. Instead of driving Al Qaeda from Afghanistan hideouts, troops find themselves in Iraq for all the wrong reasons!

Stay safe. Stay well.

Dr. Bob

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