|Viral Load Test as Diagnosis?
Oct 24, 2007
Thanks for this super helpful forum.
I was recently exposed to HIV: I performed oral sex on and briefly topped (unprotected) a person who lied about their status to me, but told the truth afterwards -- that they were positive. I started PEP with Kaletra and Combivir within five hours of exposure, and I think that realistically speaking my chances of acquiring HIV are very low.
I'm still extremely nervous, though, and so my doctor suggested I have a viral load test in a month. He said that, as opposed to the viral antibody test where I'd have to wait 3-6 months, this would give me a clear result in a month. I'm concerned, though. I'm on antiretrovirals right now: would that have some effect on the test? Is it safe to use HIV viral load tests for diagnosis?
And, I know everyone asks this, but are my chances for dodging this bullet pretty good?
Thanks for your help.
| Response from Dr. Frascino
HIV plasma viral load tests are not recommended for routine HIV screening. Plus, you are correct: since you are on antiretrovirals now, you run the additional risk of a false-negative test due to the possibility that the medications could drive the viral load to undetectable levels. I agree your risk of acquiring HIV is very low. I would recommend you follow the post-PEP testing guidelines, which recommend only anti-HIV antibody tests.
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