The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
Living With HIV: Watch Aaron's Story
Ask the Experts About

Safe Sex and HIV PreventionSafe Sex and HIV Prevention
Rollover images to visit our other forums!
Recent AnswersAsk a Question
  • Email Email
  • Glossary Glossary

My 6th Try: Please help
Apr 24, 2009

Hello. Dr. Bob,

Mailing you 6th time. I really hope and wish you will come across my email this time.

I am pasting the message form my 3rd try. Please advise me, I am starting to feel a little broken down now .. emotionally and physically.


Hello Dr. Bob.

Please help me with some advice. I have written twice before, but you never replied. I am starting to get very sick with anxiety now. I am 24 years old gay male.

I am writing my situation again. I had 3 encounters between 4 months and 8 weeks ago. First one was 4 months ago, second more than 2 months ago, and last about 8 weeks. It involved me receiving oral sex without condoms in first two encounters. Genital contact in first and last. Anal sex in second encounter in which I topped and used a condom properly to the best of my knowledge and it did not break. There was possible pre-cum contact and in the last encounter - my partner fingered me once but I did not let it happen again.

Since then I have had 3 tests. First was oral swab rapid test, around 2-3 weeks after my last encounter - it was negative. Second was an all panel 7 STDs test. While I tested negative for all 7 STDs - ELISA for HIV was reactive and WB was negative. I got this result today and I immediately went for another test today (8 weeks after the last encounter). It was an oral swab test again and it was again negative. I read some articles which say that if WB is negative but ELISA positive, seroconversion is still taking place and WB will test positive in some time. I feel totally devastated now. I am having very negative thoughts of ending my life than living with HIV. I just wanted to be sure if I am HIV +ve or not.

My symptoms - I had some back pain 2 weeks after my first encounter. But that went away after I stopped exercising in the gym (I had started gymming abruptly and vigorously after a long break). Also, had some sore throat infection - which went on it's own after a week. But still some times feel or may be imagine pain in the throat. Also, I am having dry skin peeling of penis head - seems to be way better than what it was 2 weeks ago. But still have some irritation and some white dry sking I can see peeling off. I had also been dehydrated badly some time ago. Other than that I can't remember any other distinct symptoms.

I have no idea what to make of my symptoms. The lab that tested me for all 7 STDs (HPV-1,2, Chlymdia, Gonohorea, Syphilis, Hepatitus A&B, HIV) say that I don't need to get tested again unless I suspect my exposure warantees another test in 3 months mark. I am just clueless what to make of all this. Please please, help me with some advice.

Response from Dr. Frascino


I didn't respond to your first five tries, because I was hoping you'd get the hint and check the archives to see if the information you were looking for was already posted. Indeed it is! I've answered many questions very similar to yours. Have a look!

Briefly, a reactive ELISA plus a negative Western Blot is considered to be a negative HIV test! Your concerns are completely unwarranted. You are HIV negative.

I'd suggest you stop worrying and get back to "gymming!"

As for HIV testing, please note HIV-antibody tests taken prior to the three-month mark are not considered to be conclusive. I'd recommend a single HIV-antibody test at the three-month mark. I'm quite confident the result will be negative.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob


I am a 30 year male who had unprotected vaginal intercourse with a female I did not know almost 3 months ago. I got tested at 9 weeks after exposure and the ELISA came back positive and the WB came back negative with no bands. The test was repeated at around 11 weeks with the same result. However this time, a PCR was also done which came back complately negative. I'm planning to do another test once the 12 week period is over. Should I be very worried that the ELISA keeps coming back positive? Does the PCR result mean anything or is it too early to tell?


Caustiously opptimistic

Response from Dr. Frascino


A positive EIA (or ELISA) and negative confirmatory Western Blot is read as a negative HIV-screening test. This situation is not uncommon and I've addressed it many times before in this forum. I'll reprint some examples below from the archives.

Regarding HIV testing in general, the recommended screening test is an HIV-antibody test (ELISA, EIA, rapid test) at the three-month mark. HIV-antibody tests taken prior to the three-month mark are not considered to be definitive or conclusive. PCR testing is not recommended for routine HIV screening, due to the rate of false-positives, other technical considerations and cost. That said, that you've had a negative screening test (positive ELISA plus negative WB equals a negative test!) and an undetectable PCR test out to 11 weeks is reason to be much more than "caustiously optimistic." I say it's essentially WOO-HOOable.

Dr. Bob

positive elisa Feb 15, 2008

I was date raped almost a year ago this month. I took HIV tests at 60 and 90 days. At 7 1/2 months I took another test and that one was positive elisa and negative western blot. I am now pregnant and in routine prenatal labs I had another positive elisa. The western blot is not yet in, my question is, what are the chances that I have it? The only possible risk was unprotected oral sex and I believe he used a condom for vaginal and anal sex. I am scared for my baby. Please help.

Response from Dr. Frascino


A positive ELISA and negative Western Blot is considered a negative HIV test! ELISA tests can be falsely reactive due to many factors, including nonspecific cross-reacting proteins resulting from pregnancy. Assuming your pending Western Blot is once again negative, I see no cause for concern. You can read more about false-positive ELISA tests in the archives.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob

False Positive Jul 17, 2007

Dr. Frascino,

Hi. My partner and I have been together for two years. He has been HIV positive for 13 years and his viral load is undetectable. He remains exceptionally healthy. We do not practice safe oral sex. For precautionary measures, I have 3-4 HIV tests per year. In May 2007, my Elisa test came back positive and the Western Blot negative. My PCP referred me to an infectious disease specialist because of the situation with my partner being positive and me being negative. In July 2007 the tests with the specialist returned the same results. My question is why? Over the past two years, four out of six tests returned a negative Elisa, while my last two returned a positive Elisa with an negative Western Blot. The specialist stated the virus may be in the early development stages, but again, unlikely because my viral load is at 400 or undetectable. What are the reasons for the positive Elisa with a negative Western Blot?

Thank you for your time.

Response from Dr. Frascino


A reactive ELISA and negative Western Blot (WB) is considered a negative HIV-screening test. The ELISA test is set to pick up as many true positives as possible (very sensitive test). In doing so it also picks up some "false positives." That's why a reactive ELISA must always be followed-up with a confirmatory more specific test, such as a Western Blot or immunofluorescence assay (IFA), to confirm the reactive ELISA before the test (combined ELISA and WB) can be termed "positive." There are many reasons why ELISAs can show "false positive" results, including cross-reacting nonspecific antibodies that trigger a positive result, but that have nothing to do with HIV.

If your results are in dispute or should your Western Blot become indeterminate, which can also happen with nonspecific cross-reacting antibodies, I would recommend you get a DNA PCR (rather than RNA viral load).

Considering your two reactive ELISAs had negative WBs and were run two months apart, I strongly doubt you are seroconverting.

Dr. Bob

Positive Elisa Negative WB Jul 31, 2008

I recently had an HIV test (July 22) after having several rounds of vaccinations for school 1 month earlier. For the first time my ELISA came back positive, my WB came back negative (no bands). I have had NO unprotected sex in the last 6 months but had sex with 1 female protected and no fluids were exchanged (no kissing, etc). When the lab technician got my test results she walked me outside and told me i can be sure i have HIV and though she'd never seen this result in her 11 years the virus is simply lying dormant. Have you seen this in your experience?


Response from Dr. Frascino


The lab technician told you that you "can be sure (you) have HIV"????? WHAT???? Apparently that lab technician is not the brightest bulb in the tanning bed (so to speak). A reactive (positive) ELISA with a negative Western Blot (WB) is considered to be a negative HIV test, because the WB is the more specific test. Also, HIV doesn't lie dormant! Someone needs to send that technician to an HIV refresher course.

Positive ELISAs with negative WBs are quite common. That the technician had never seen this result in her 11 years is rather surprising. Are you sure she was a real technician? She seems as clueless as Dubya faced with a word that has more than three syllables.

Take a look through the archives. We have a whole chapter devoted to HIV testing. There you will find many cases similar to yours.

Dr. Bob

Is God punishing me?

  • Email Email
  • Glossary Glossary

 Get Email Notifications When This Forum Updates or Subscribe With RSS



This forum is designed for educational purposes only, and experts are not rendering medical, mental health, legal or other professional advice or services. If you have or suspect you may have a medical, mental health, legal or other problem that requires advice, consult your own caregiver, attorney or other qualified professional.

Experts appearing on this page are independent and are solely responsible for editing and fact-checking their material. Neither nor any advertiser is the publisher or speaker of posted visitors' questions or the experts' material.

Review our complete terms of use and copyright notice.

Powered by ExpertViewpoint