The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
Ask the Experts About

Safe Sex and HIV PreventionSafe Sex and HIV Prevention
Rollover images to visit our other forums!
Recent AnswersAsk a Question
  • Email Email
  • Glossary Glossary

Questions about Viral RNA tests

Jun 28, 2005

Hi R.J.

I thank you immensely for your input on this website. I have turned to your comments when questioning my HIV status. I had a relatively low risk experience about a year and a half ago. I gave oral sex to a man of unknown status and he then stuck his finger in my anus and gave me oral sex. Im sure he had his own semen on his finger when he did this. By the way, this was in Italy. The following day, my lymph nodes were painful and swollen and in the weeks following, all my axial lymph nodes swelled up and were painful. Since then I have developed recurrent mouth sores, fatigue, occasional fevers, night sweats, diffuculty swallowing, and a white coating on my tongue. I have had four ELISA HIV tests since then, the last at 9 months following the experience. All came back negative. I had blood work done, and I didnt get an lymphocyte subpanel, but my lymphocyte differential % and absolute were all in the normal range. Should I be worried about HIV at this point? Should I get a Viral RNA test to confirm my HIV status? My concern are my symptoms and the fact that I had lymphatic swelling immediately following the experience. Also, the guy wanted to have anal sex without a condom and was a little sleazy (I was young and dumb, I have since learned). Do you think I should be concerned? Does the fact I was in Italy and on a boat to Africa play anything into this? Are HIV antibody tests in the USA accurate for possible African serotypes?

Thank you for your help... also, my life now has dramatically improved from that time and I want to donate to your foundation. Tell me how.

Thanks, C

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello C,

Lymph node discomfort and swelling the day following a potential HIV exposure would not be due to HIV infection. It just doesn't happen that quickly.

Four negative ELISA tests out to nine months are considered definitive and conclusive. I see no reason for viral PCR RNA testing or any additional HIV testing, for that matter.

That your partner may have been sleazy and willing to bareback isn't all that important. What really counts is how risky your specific sexual activity was. In your case, I agree it was low risk. I can't comment on your question related to serotypes, as I don't know exactly what type of ELISA test you actually had performed. Certainly most FDA-approved antibody tests would provide accurate results for those having Italian fun in a boat en route to Africa. (This sounds like a great vacation trip, by the way!) Consequently, I do not feel your HIV worries are warranted.

Donation information for my foundation is available at the Foundation's Web site at Thank you for your willingness to help others struggling with the challenges of HIV/AIDS.

Stay well. Stay safe.

Dr. Bob

Worry very much
It's a miracle

  • Email Email
  • Glossary Glossary

 Get Email Notifications When This Forum Updates or Subscribe With RSS



This forum is designed for educational purposes only, and experts are not rendering medical, mental health, legal or other professional advice or services. If you have or suspect you may have a medical, mental health, legal or other problem that requires advice, consult your own caregiver, attorney or other qualified professional.

Experts appearing on this page are independent and are solely responsible for editing and fact-checking their material. Neither nor any advertiser is the publisher or speaker of posted visitors' questions or the experts' material.

Review our complete terms of use and copyright notice.

Powered by ExpertViewpoint