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tests says I am "-" . Could I have undetectable viral load?

Feb 13, 2008


My boyfriend went to take the HIV test today and he is positive. Since we have had unsafe, unprotected sex for the last 3 or 4 years, I was devastated. I assume there was no way I wouldn't be infected as well. I took the test immediately and they gave a negative result... I just can't believe it.

Reading these forums, I am getting more suspicious about my results and believe that maybe I am infected and my viral load was undetectable. Is that possible? I know the method for my test was different from my boyfriends', mine was "Immunocromatography", which I am reading just know it isn't as acurate as the Elisa variant. Please tell me what method to ask for the next time I take the test ( I plan to take another one next week ).

I want (need, for my sanity's sake) a conclusive diagnosis.

thank you very much.

Response from Dr. Frascino


Sorry to learn of your boyfriend's recent diagnosis. That your HIV test is negative is excellent news, but you may not be completely out of the woods just yet. You need to get retested at three and six months after your last potential exposure before you can be definitively classified as HIV negative.

HIV-antibody tests can be done using a variety of slightly different techniques to determine if you have detectable levels of anti-HIV antibody in your blood. All of these FDA-approved tests are highly accurate. Rapid tests can be run on oral fluid and also provide accurate results in as few as 20 minutes. Blood tests may take several days to get a result.

Your worries that your negative test might not be accurate, because you might have an undetectable viral load, are completely unwarranted. HIV viral loads don't have anything to do with HIV-antibody tests used for HIV screening. (The HIV viral load test measures the virus itself, not antibodies to the virus.) I would suggest while you are waiting for your three- and six-month tests that you spend some time reviewing the wealth of information on this site related to HIV testing and HIV prevention. You appear to need considerable information in both areas. You can learn more about "HIV Testing Basics" by accessing the chapter of that name under the Quick Links heading on The Body's homepage.

Good luck to both you and your boyfriend.

Dr. Bob

Thank You.
Bush and HIV prevention

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