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I Have an STD could I also have HIV?The Body: Rick Sowadsky M.S.P.H., C.D.S, Answers to Safe Sex Questions

Jan 31, 1997

I had an Aids test in Feb of '96 which came back negative. I initially went to the health department to get put on birth control. While there i told the doctor that i had a spot on the inside of my leg. She looked at it and decided to do some STD tests. It came back positive for herpes. This is what spawned the HIV testing. I had always used protected sex but there was an occasion when the condom slipped off. I had also had unprotected oral sex, this was when I was unaware that oral sex could transmit the AIDS virus. I didn't go back in 6 months and get another reading. I had donated plasma during this time and nothing ever came back saying I was HIV positive. I did not donate to see if I was positive, I donated for some extra money while in school. Since then I decided to get another test. I got it this January which makes it almost a year since I was last tested. Should I be fairly positive that I am negative by now if I have had no other encounters where I could have been infected?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

If you test negative almost a year after any possible exposure, the HIV antibody tests are more than 99% accurate, as good as any test in medicine could ever be. So your test now should give you an accurate test result, since it's been more than 6 months after any possible exposure to the virus.

The fact that you got Herpes doesn't necessarily mean that you got HIV also. However, generally speaking, when a person is exposed to one Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD), they may have been exposed to others as well. That's why when a person tests positive for one STD, we often test for others at the same time. Herpes is a much easier infection to get than HIV. The Herpes virus is transmitted by direct physical contact with a Herpes lesion. This compares to the HIV virus, which must get directly into the bloodstream in order to infect you. So it's much easier to get Herpes than it is to get HIV. However, as a general rule, if a person gets one STD, we test for others as well.

The other thing I'd like to mention is that if you think you have been exposed to HIV, or other bloodborne diseases (like Hepatitis B), you should NOT donate blood or plasma. This is because we want to keep our blood and plasma supply as safe as possible from infectious diseases. If you had tested positive for HIV when you made the donation, you would have been notified of your positive test. When a person donates blood or plasma, if they do not hear anything, it indicates that they did not test positive for any of the blood diseases that blood and plasma are screened for (HIV-1, HIV-2, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HTLV-I/II, and syphilis).

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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