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Accuracy of HIV Antibody Tests from 2008?

Aug 13, 2011

Dear Dr. Bob: There may be others who have tested in the past and have concerns about the accuracy of tests taken a few years ago or even tests taken a decade ago or longer. Dr. Hook today advised a woman who had been tested several years ago to get retested "to put her mind at ease". Her question was about the accuracy of testing done several years ago compared to now. If someone were tested in 2008, or in 2000 or before that time in the 1990s, should that person be tested again---particularly if the person were experiencing symptoms such as constant herpes breakouts that cannot be suppressed by Valacyclovir and other symptoms associated with HIV? Thank you! Janie

Response from Dr. Frascino


In general there is no reason to question the accuracy of previous HIV-antibody tests, even if they were an earlier-generation assay. Certainly there are certain situations and sets of extenuating circumstances that might lead to a specific recommendation to consider retesting, but these would be rare. Isolated recurrent bouts of herpes would not be an indication for repeat HIV-antibody testing. HIV tests are readily available if you want to retest, but I see no medical reason to do so.

Dr. Bob

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