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Can high stress/anxiety affect HIV test results?
Aug 6, 2011

I have been reading a lot about the effects of stress on the immune system, and have a question. I have been in HIGH stress mode for the past 3 months since a low/no risk HIV exposure (mutual masturbation) -- have lost sleep, have all sorts of symptoms, etc. I took HIV antibody tests several times (2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks) and HIV-DNA PCR test at 7 weeks, and a Home Access HIV Test at 10 weeks. I am coming-up on 12 weeks, and am planning on one last test.

Question: Would high stress levels suppress the immune system in such a way that it would not create antibodies to HIV? And, yes, I have decided to seek counselling for this unusual event that has literally made me so scared.

Question 2: If the only exposure was mutual masturbation twice (once with only precum, and once where semen was on my body -- but not in it -- for a few seconds), should I really even take another test -- or should I trust the numerous ones I have had including the PCR one?

Thanks for answering this odd question...

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi.

1. If high stress levels caused false-negative HIV-antibody tests, the tests really wouldn't be worth much, because gazillions of folks have "high stress" for a whole host of reasons and are often off-the-chart stressed while getting HIV tested. Just peruse the archives and you'll soon notice the levels of anxiety and stress around HIV-testing is really quite phenomenal.

2. Your HIV-acquisition risk is negligible at best. HIV testing was not warranted. You can consider your repeatedly negative HIV-antibody tests out to eight weeks plus your undetectable qualitative HIV PCR DNA to be definitive, conclusive and WOO-HOO-able.

Dr. Bob



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