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HIV + after Western Blot and bDNA
Oct 20, 2002

Dr. Aberg, I am a 43-year-old white mother of two children, ages ten and six. Seven months ago, after experiencing health problems for 3 years, I had an Indeterminate Western blot ( P 31)band showing. Two subsequent ones showed the same. bDNA shows 69 copies. All other HIV tests were negative, including ELISA's and DNA PCR's. But I know how specific the WB test is. Daughter also quantified 58 copies via bDNA. Her WB is negative. I worry that my children are infected: My son has developmental delays and my daughter has had symptoms since birth. I'm in such pain, but doctors tell me I'm AIDS phobic. I have lab reports stating I'm reacting with the P 31 band, specific for HIV, as well as the bDNA detecting 69 copies. I know there are other long-term non-progressors like me. I'm getting no support from the medical community. Doctor, I'm truly worried for my children. I am at wits end on getting them diagnosed. A doctor told me that they would have tested positive on ELISA, but I have been negative on ELISA for years. I do know that the bDNA is accurate and can detect non B type HIV. With my children's symptoms and my lab reports, I know we are positive. What can I do? Edith

Response from Dr. Aberg

This is one of the problems of doing a laboratory test without the proper indications. A Western Blot should only be done to confirm a positive Elisa so I am not sure why you had a western blot done when your Elisa is negative. There may be false positives with the western blot as you have. A single p31 band on a western blot is not significant. You have only part of it correct when you say the western blot is highly specific. Yes, the western blot is highly specific when combined with an Elisa. Again, you need more than one band to be positive in order to have a positive western blot for HIV.

Also, both HIV bDNA and PCR tests may have false positives as well. In this setting, you can have a low amount of "virus" detected but it is not HIV. Your lab tests support that you do not have HIV.

It is not healthy for you or your children to keep dwelling on something that is not there. I recognize that you are in pain because of your children's conditions but I suggest you focus on their actual health issues. I would recommend that you seek counseling to assist you in coping and living with your son's developmental delays.


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