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Can an hiv antibody test false-positively react to syphilis?

Nov 6, 2011

I decided to go get tested for hiv a couple of months ago. I went to this non-profit testing site and i had an oraquick rapid test and a western blot done. Both of them came back positive and i was in shock. I didnt know how to accept that. Then just last week when i went to an appointment (since i've been deemed "positive" i have been seeking treatment) my lab results from my blood analysis came back and i found out i had secondary syphilis !!! I was baffled. I got one penicillin shot and the nurse told me syphilis was not a problem anymore but she did tell me my CD4 count was 441. I know a CD4 is done in conjunction with a viral load but she mention ANYTHNG about viral load--as if it wasnt a factor. So: does syphilis cause such a sharp decrease of white blood cells in hiv negative people? Can syphilis antibodies in fact be misinterpreted as hiv antibodies? Please help me out here and be completely honest because i am only seeking answers to have a peace of mind and factual information.

Response from Mr. Cordova

Hi there:

Thanks for writing in. When a person is infected with HIV, Syphilis can cause a much more severe decline in the CD4 count.

In regards to Syphilis being misinterpreted for HIV, the answer is no. Please see a previous answer by Dr. Bob for more information on this subject.

I am glad to hear that you are seeking treatment. While the nurse in your doctors office is a wealth of information, I would suggest talking more in-depth with your doctor about treatment options, viral load, CD4 count, and what that means for your health.

Be sure to check out the Just Diagnosed section on The Body for more information on navigating this new chapter in your life.

Best of luck to you.

In health, Richard

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