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What do I do if my doctor thinks I have HIV?

Oct 21, 1999

Dear Rick,

After a recent 3 week illness with the high fever and sweats, fatigue, body aches... my doc suggested it might be HIV. Now I never took the PCR Viral load test, but i have taken an ElISA antibody test which at six months posy exposure, and it was negative. I read eveyewhere that I shold have taken the PCR test. Is an ELISA test sufficient at this point?

Thanks Fred.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question. You never stated in your question whether you were even at risk for HIV in the first place, nor if you put yourself at risk since your last negative test for the virus. If you tested negative at 6 months, and you have not put yourself at risk of infection since that negative test, at this point, there is nothing to suggest that your symptoms are due to HIV. In addition, PCR testing is not even recommended for the routine diagnosis of HIV in adults. The first thing you need to ask your doctor is why they suspect that your symptoms are due to HIV (versus any other illness). The symptoms you were describing could have also been due to numerous other causes. So before taking tests that you may not even need, I strongly suggest that you ask your doctor why they suspect that you may have HIV. If they have a good reason to suspect that you have HIV, then the standard antibody tests are all that are usually necessary.

For more information on this topic, please read the following two posts on our website:

Under what circumstances should a person be tested for HIV? Blood Test

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

Will having an STD affect HIV tests?
HIV testing to obtain insurance

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