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nucleic acid testing

May 16, 2006

dr. bob, i'm a 25 year old guy who made a mistake and had brief unprotected insertive anal sex about 5 weeks ago. The guy also had his penis around my anus- but not in. Of course, I'm beating myself up and my anxiety is really kicking up right now. I had an hiv test and std screenings at one week. All negative/non reactive. My anxiety got very bad and my dr. recommended having a nucleic acid test at 3 weeks if that was the case. I found a program at the los angeles gay and lesbian center that offers free diagnostic nat for hiv. I went about 10 days ago and get the results tomorrow. I know you don't recommend this as a means of diagnosis, but I wanted to know what you know of the testing they offer and whether or not it is reliable. also, is the chance for a false positive still high as i believe it is a pooled nat test?

whether or not you answer this, thanks for all your help and support, you've gotten me through a scare once before and hopefully i'm a day away from woohooing again. or at least a woo. you really are an angel.

Response from Dr. Frascino


Yes, I am aware the Gay and Lesbian Center in Los Angeles began offering free nucleic acid amplification testing (NAT). I believe they are the first site in Los Angeles County to do so! By report, this testing assay, which detects actual HIV rather than antibodies to the virus, can give accurate results within three to four weeks, compared to three months for standard HIV-antibody tests, such as ELISA. I do not have specific information about the rate of false-negatives or false-positives for the specific testing assay the center is using. However, chances are the folks at the center would be able to provide you with whatever information has been generated so far. I do believe the general testing assay (NAT) is indeed valid. More information should be available fairly soon if this type of testing becomes more widespread and available. I'll try to keep you posted as reliable information evolves.

Good luck!

Dr. Bob

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