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False Positive Test for over six months

May 26, 2009

Dear Dr. Fascino,

Thank you for your work. Your site has been very helpful to me as my son had a positive ELISA test three times in the past six months -- all accompanied by negative Western Blot and PCR tests. He was tested because he had flu-like symptoms for about a month which have since gone away. After his last test this past week, his doctor told him he wants to see him again in several months but does not seem to be able to explain why the ELISA is still positive. My question is do individuals have false positive ELISA for life?

Thank you for helping the moms too!!!

Response from Dr. Frascino


First and foremost your son is definitively and conclusively HIV negative. No further HIV testing is warranted, unless he has a subsequent HIV risk exposure.

Regarding false-positive ELISA testing, yes, it is possible for someone to repeatedly test positive on ELISAs over many years despite having repeatedly negative confirmatory Western Blots and undetectable HIV plasma RNA viral loads. This does not mean there is anything wrong with the person who tests repeatedly ELISA positive! It's usually due to some type of nonspecific cross-reacting antibody and has absolutely no prognostic significance. I see absolutely no reason for your son's doctor to continue to test him or try to explain why his ELISA tests continue to be reactive (positive).

Dr. Bob

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