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2 indeterminate results (INDETERMINATE WESTERN BLOT, PREGNANCY)
Dec 19, 2007

Hi. I am a 30 year old woman who has had 2 partners. I made my ex-boyfriend get tested (he came back negative) and then both my husband and I were tested three years ago (both results were negative). In October I got a horrible cold/flu that I had for a week. I also found out that I was pregnant. Also in October, I got bloodwork done as part of my pregnancy profile. I had a positive HIV first test result (I assume it was an EIA or ELISA test) and an indeterminate Western blot. My doctor explained to me that this result could be due to my pregnancy (my first pregnancy). He told me to get retested with a Western Blot in six weeks. The week before I was scheduled to get re-tested, I had a miscarriage and a D and C procedure. Four days after the surgery, I got retested and my results again came back indeterminate, showing that p24, p40 and p55 were "present". Is it still possible that cross-reacting pregnancy antibodies were present even though I am no longer pregnant? My anxiety is at an all time high and I honestly don't know how much more of this I can take, between losing the baby and these tests. How worried should I be?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Is it still possible that cross-reacting antibodies could have been present even if your pregnancy terminated prematurely? Yes, not only is it possible, it's highly likely. Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system, which then circulate in the blood. They are broken down and eliminated eventually, but this generally takes a number of months (sometimes much longer).

From your history of lack of potential exposure to HIV, there is no doubt you are HIV negative. If your indeterminate HIV test status is troublesome for you, I would suggest you get an HIV DNA PCR qualitative test. This type of test does not rely on antibody detection and therefore would not be affected by nonspecific pregnancy-induced cross-reacting antibodies. Alternatively you could wait a number of months, four to six, and then retest using the anti-HIV tests (ELISA, WB). The option is yours. The results will ultimately be the same: You will be confirmed to be HIV negative.

Stay well.

Dr. Bob



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