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Indeterminate WB result
Oct 9, 2006

My brother has recently had a HIV Western blot test, as part of his medical check up. He is a gay man, who recently has been travelling extensively long haul, to Thailand, Cambodia, India and Europe (in the space of two weeks)in the last month. He has been run down for the last few months in general, and not eating properly, and generally has not been feeling well. His Western Blot was 'indeterminate'. Is it possible that because at the time of testing he was already immunosupressed, and that this has interfered with the test result? An ELISA test was not conducted before the Western Blot Test. He was in a five year relationship which ended in June (he was very depressed and was not eating properly and hence lost alot of weight etc), and since his break-up, has engaged in low risk activity (oral sex-recieving not giving). Can you help with some advice.

The doctor now wants to conduct a viral load test-but is it really necessary? If he has an ELISA test-he is already under par-and if he has another viral infection, could this be picked up by the ELISA antibody test, giving a false positive? I'm worried. I personally think that he has a flu virus or possibly picked up something such as malaria? I've been doing alot of research on the ELISA/WB/Viral load tests and find that they are not so reliable?.

Please advise.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

First off, Western Blot tests should never be used as initial HIV-screening tests. They are indicated only as confirmatory tests after someone has a repeated reactive ELISA.

Next, running a viral load test makes absolutely no sense. What your brother needs is an ELISA test. If that's negative, he's negative. If the ELISA is positive, he'll need a Western Blot.

There are many potential reasons for an "indeterminate" Western Blot test. I've discussed these in detail in the archives.

What your brother needs most at this time is a more competent physician!

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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