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pcr test

Sep 16, 2007

Dear Dr. Bob, two weeks ago I had receptive anal sex and the condom broke but my partner had no ejaculation. However, i was bleeding... After that I was really worried and took 11 days later a pcr test. The lab result says <40 copies. Now I am lost what does this mean? Was the test too early to show signs? or is it a false positive? But this is very rare isnt it? Thank you so much for your answer. mark

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Mark,

That you had receptive anal sex and the condom broke does place you at some degree of risk for STDs, including HIV. If your partner was known to be HIV positive, PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) would have been recommended. PEP is most effective if started as soon as possible (and no later than 72 hours) after an exposure. Regarding HIV testing, PCR is not recommended for routine HIV screening, due to the rate of false-positives, other technical considerations and cost. The recommended test is an HIV-antibody test (ELISA or rapid test) taken at the three-month mark. Antibody tests taken prior to three months are not considered to be definitive or conclusive.

Your PCR lab result of "<40 copies" would be considered an undetectable ("negative") result. It's certainly not a "false positive!" It's not positive at all! It's also not a valid measurement at 11 days.

Dr. Bob

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