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False positive with the PCR test
Apr 14, 2011

Dear Dr. Frascino, I got a call from my doctor at Kaiser today that I have been exposed to HIV but have no antibodies to the disease. He didn't say so, but I would assume that they gave me the PCR test since that test does not test for antibodies. The thing is that I have had sex about 6 times over the past six months, no anal intercourse, and only light, pre-ejaculation oral sex (albeit without a condom). I can't tell you how upset I am. Your blog is one of the few things that have given me hope. How worried should I be that I am HIV positive?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

A call from your physician (or the health department) advising you have been "exposed to HIV" doesn't mean you have contracted the virus. Rather, it just means someone who has been diagnosed as HIV positive gave your name as a sexual contact. The call is to alert you that you should be tested if you put yourself at risk for acquiring HIV, i.e., had unsafe sex. Oral sex is considered very low risk for HIV transmission/acquisition.

I would suggest you contact your doctor for additional clarification. Your doctor would not know if you have HIV antibodies (test HIV positive) or not, unless he ran a specific HIV-antibody test. PCR tests are generally not used for diagnostic purposes.

Good luck!

Dr. Bob



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