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Jun 2, 2007

Dr. Bob,

I recently had unprotected intercourse with a woman who I would characterize as low-risk. I have always been careful with my partners (until this one) and ended up freaking out the next day (until this encounter, I would also characterize myself as low-risk), I waited until day 12 and ordered a commercially-developed (through a large lab company) qualitative DNA came back 'detected'. I plan to follow-up with antibody screening, but, as can be expected, this is causing me huge amounts of stress.

So, my question is: what is your experience with false-positives with this type of test?

I didn't do much research prior to ordering the test, but have since found the information on false positive rates to be sketchy and inconsistent, at best.

Thanks in advance.

Response from Dr. Frascino


Your unfortunate experience once again clearly demonstrates the dangers and potential downside of trying to use a test for purposes for which it was not intended or approved. HIV DNA PCR testing is not considered sufficiently accurate for HIV diagnosis without confirmation from approved testing techniques. Your only option at this time is to wait for your three-month HIV antibody test to get an accurate and conclusive result.

I'm confident you've learned several lessons from this experience. First, unprotected sex isn't worth the risk. Second, PCR testing should not be used for routine HIV screening. Hopefully your testimonial will help others avoid winding up in similar situations. Write back with your three-month definitive test result and I'll publish your follow-up report.

Good luck!

Dr. Bob

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