|Can dengue fever or tetanus shot cause HIV false positive?
Dec 19, 2010
Hello Dr. Frascino. About 1 month ago I returned from a trip to Nicaragua where I was stung in the foot by a stingray. As a result, I went to the hospital in Managua (the most reputable one according to my mother in-law) who lives there. The hospital seemed top notch, large building and very clean looking. Anyway, about 3 and a half days after getting the tetanus shot I came down with what I believe to be dengue fever especially because my brother in-law who lives there was diagnosed with it a few days earlier. I was bitten quite a few times by mosquitos while I was there and my symptoms seemed to match perfectly with dengue fever (fever for about 4 days, then a rash for another 4 days or so with needle-like pattern on my feet). Because I did not come down with the symptoms until my flight back to California, I wound up going to my primary physician to confirm my self diagnosis. Apparently, they tested me for HIV as well and the test came out positive. Keep in mind that I have been with the same woman (my wife) for the last ten years without any cheating what so ever (I'm very happily married). Moreover, she was a virgin when I married her and I know without question she has been faithful. In addition, I had gone through a 6 year dry spell of no sex before ever meeting my wife. So I have to say that I doubt I got HIV from sexual intercourse. I have also never done drugs with needles or anything of the like. So, just looking at this situation makes me believe it would have to be a false positive. My sister in-law also said she found an article stating that tetanus shots could cause false postives as well as dengue fever. My primary physician hadn't ever heard of dengue fever until a couple of months ago when studying for his boards so I almost feel like I know more than him. If my positive HIV test result really is legit (I'm currently waiting for a second test result), what are the chances that I got it from a dirty needle from the tetanus shot? Or what are the chances that the tetanus shot itself or the dengue caused the false positive? Given my ultra low-risk lifestyle, and the circumstances surrounding this positive HIV test result (bit by mosquitos, brother in-law just had dengue, tetanus shot just 3 days before symptoms appeared), could this be a false positive?
| Response from Dr. Frascino
Your chance of contracting HIV from a tetanus shot administered at the hospital in Managua is essentially nil. If you have had no HIV exposures, you cannot be HIV infected. I would agree your positive test is most likely a false positive. Immunizations, including tetanus, could case a false-positive HIV-antibody test. This can be easily determined by obtaining the appropriate follow-up studies.
Write back and I'll post your follow-up results for the benefit of our readers.
Good luck. Happy Holidays.
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 TheBody.com nor any advertiser is the publisher or speaker of posted visitors' questions or the experts' material.