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Antibody vs. RNA test

Jul 29, 2007

I recently had unprotected sex with a male partner with unknown HIV status. about two weeks later I experienced flu like symptoms fever,chills aches, swollen glands, fatigue. About 4 weeks later I was still sick. I got tested for mono and HIV. I tested positive for mono, and I also tested HIV positive with the ELISA test. The WB test came back indeterminate, and an RNA test came back negative. Which of these tests is most accurate? could the mono have thrown off the anitbody tests? Is it common for the RNA test to give a false negative? The counselor said that I should consider myself negative, what do you think?

Response from Dr. Frascino


Unprotected sex does place you at risk for STDs, including HIV. Consequently, HIV testing is warranted. HIV-antibody tests taken prior to the three-month mark are not considered conclusive. False-negative RNA tests are certainly not common. However I do not recommend PCR RNA tests for routine HIV screening, due to technical issues, the rate of false-positives and cost. My advice would be to repeat your HIV-antibody tests (ELISA and confirmatory WB if indicated) at the three-month mark. If your results are still indeterminate, I would recommend a DNA PCR. And my final and most important recommendation is to never put yourself at risk again! Use latex condoms and water-based lube!

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

question from Eastern Europe
Lipodystrophy (LIPODYSTROPHY)

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