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indeterminate HIV results
Apr 4, 2010

A year ago, I was pregnant with my son, and had an HIV test done. It was negative. Last month, I went to donate blood. Air got into the bag, so they said they couldnt use it, but they will still send some out to be tested. I just received a letter in the mail stating that my first screening test for HIV-1/2 showed a reaction and that my confirmatory test was indeterminate. then a nucleic acid test was negative. I have been reading similar questions on here, but I cant help but be really scared. My husband is negative and we have been together for 4 years. Previous to him, I only had 2 partners. I have never cheated. I dont do drugs. I really dont think I could have HIV, but I was wondering why I would have a positive test and an indeterminate test, without having HIV. I mean, is there a chance that something else is wrong with me to cause these results? Im really nervous. The letter also says I will never be able to donate my blood again. Why is that?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

If indeed you've been reading my comments about similar situations in this forum, you shouldn't be "really scared," but rather you should be relieved and reassured! I'll restate a few of the key points for you:

1. You have essentially no HIV risk; hence, your chances of being HIV infected are essentially nonexistent.

2. Blood donation center HIV-screening assays are designed to protect the blood supply, not diagnose HIV disease. The sensitivity and specificity of these tests is formulated to be overprotective, if you will. That means they may (and not infrequently do) pick up some false-positive results. They would rather err on the side of being overly sensitive than miss a true HIV positive donor.

3. A reactive screening HIV-1/2, indeterminate confirmatory test (presumably a Western Blot) and an undetectable nucleic acid test would indicate you are HIV negative. Your reactive screening test and indeterminate confirmatory test are most likely due to nonspecific cross-reacting antibodies that can induce false-positive or indeterminate HIV-antibody test results. You can read much more about this topic in the archives of this forum. Have a look!

4. As for not being able to donate blood, this again relates to a system of extra protection for the blood supply. The blood banks are not equipped to weed out true positives from false positives. Consequently they do not accept anyone who tests "positive," even though some of these folks are not HIV infected.

Dr. Bob



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