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Can An HIV Test Be Done On Deceased?
Jun 25, 2011

I know you deal with safe sex and prevention, but thought if anyone knew the answer to this, it would be you.

My HIV infection has been confusing to me. I had always had protected sex with condoms and few partners. I assumed a condom must have broken. Obviously something happened, because I'm poz. However, I always wondered whether I could have been infected from a family member who molested me. I have been estranged from him and have no clue whether he was poz or not. However, he had multiple partners. He would pick up strangers going back to the 70's. But, he told a family member that he was surprised he never got HIV. He was recently found dead--coroner said he was dead for a few days before he was found. Surprisingly to me, they didn't do an autopsy. They said he was in his 50's, a heavy smoker with high blood pressure, so more than likely a massive heart attack or stroke.

I'm curious whether HIV would have even been checked during an autopsy anyway? I doubt it, right? Before he is buried, could a tissue sample be obtained that could be checked for HIV--even after being embalmed? Even if it were possible, I'm not sure I would even go to those lengths, but I am curious whether it is possible. I know some say why concern yourself with who infected you, because what will that knowledge do for you. But, it would answer the very important question. In any event, I'm still curious about the science of it.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi.

HIV testing would not be run as part of a routine autopsy in most cases. HIV testing is not possible once the body has been embalmed.

I tend to agree with those who suggest you spend less time and energy on what happened yesterday and instead focus on the realities of today and the promise of tomorrow. You can't change what happened in the past, but the future is still an open book.

Dr. Bob



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