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RNA PCR Testing --Accuracy
Feb 14, 2007

Hello, Two weeks ago I went in for an HIV test --36 hours before I had performed oral sex on a partner of unknown HIV status, and I was interested in the PEP program. I was given the 15-minute finger-prick blood test, which came back negative, and a RNA PCR test, which came back positive. Today, I went back for the same on-the-spot antibody test, which came up negative again. The HIV counselor seemed pretty sure that I was positive and should prepare for the news (even before my antibody test), and I'm shocked that they didnt tell me PCR-RNA tests can come back with false positives. Should I assume I am positive? Other than the experience mentioned above, I am partnered and we both play safe.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Yikes! Another totally avoidable HIV testing nightmare!

Facts:

1. PEP would not be warranted for oral sex on a partner of unknown HIV status.

2. To determine if you contracted HIV, you would need an HIV-antibody test three months after your last potential exposure.

3. RNA-PCR testing is not recommended for routine HIV screening, due to the rate of false-positives, other technical considerations and cost. Your test was a false-positive as proven by your repeatedly negative HIV-antibody tests.

4. Your HIV counselor is undoubtedly wrong in his assumption that you are HIV positive. Please send him and the director of the testing clinic a copy of this questions and my response. This counselor needs counseling!!!

Dr. Bob



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