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scared nurse - 2 postive ELISA
Oct 10, 2007

Dr. Bob, I am a 25 y/o female who recently graduated from nursing school. I am currently working as a RN on a med surg/pulmonary floor. Two weeks ago, I was drawing blood and stuck myself with the butterfly needle I was using. The patient was tested for HIV and had a hepatitis series ran. She came back negative for everything. However, I had a reactive ELISA test. They took more blood 7 days after the initial stick and ran another ELISA. That came back reactive as well. I am currently awaiting a Western Blot test results. They had to mail my blood from Georgia to California for the testing. This has me even more paranoid. I have been married since December 2006. I dated my husband for 4 years before we were married. I have had sex with one other man and we were both virgins. I am not an IV drug user. I have never had a blood transfusion. Yet, I am freaking out over this. To top it all off, I was sick last week with a painful lymph node on the right side of my neck and an ear infection in my right ear. I can't eat. I can't sleep. I haven't been able to get myself to go to work because I am so stressed out an worried!! I have no idea why the two Elisa tests would be reactive? Please help!! I am losing my mind!

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Scared Nurse,

They had to mail your Western Blot from Georgia to California??? Why? Someone should advise the lab folks in Georgia that just because it's called a Western Blot doesn't mean it can only be run on the West Coast!

Your HIV risk is extremely minimal. You have essentially no risk in your personal life. The occupational risk would come into play only if the source patient was in his or her window period (newly HIV infected and not yet making detectable levels of anti-HIV antibodies). The odds are excellent that your reactive ELISA is a false positive, most likely due to nonspecific cross-reacting antibodies. A negative Western Blot will confirm this. If, however, the Western Blot is indeterminate or reactive, I would advise getting a proviral DNA PCR. You can read about false-positive ELISA tests in the archives. You should find the information and testimonials there to be enlightening and reassuring.

Don't freak out! I'm quite confident all will be well including you!

Dr. Bob



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