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Sustiva and Marijuana False Positive
Jul 10, 2003

Lynn, Lynne, and Nancy -

First of all, I would like to thank all three of you for your compassionate efforts to educate our community about workplace issues pertaining to HIV/AIDS. Your kindness and professionalism shines through!

I wanted to share with you some information regarding pre-employment drug testing. In particular, I am writing in regard to the issue of false positives that Sustiva can generate for marijuana on certain pre-employment drug assays.

Today, I had to take such a pre-employment drug test for a government defense contractor. According to the pharmaceutical information available at Sustiva.com, only one test assay generates false positives (look under the heading of "Cannabinoid Test Interaction" on the drug insert, which is available as a PDF file).

According to the drug insert information, the false positives subsequently yielded a correct (negative) result for marijuana when more sensitive confirmatory testing, employing "gas chromatography/mass spectrometry" (or "GC/MS") was employed.

Looking at the paperwork I had been given to take to the drug testing site today, I was relieved to see that the test ordered was "GC/MS". This meant that I did not have to needlessly disclose to the testing facility that I am taking Sustiva (which is tantamount to disclosing one's HIV status). For those who do not have such clearly marked drug testing paperwork, this information presents a new way for them to address false positives without revealing their HIV status: in the event of a false positive, ask that the specimen be re-evaluated using the GC/MS confirmatory method, explain that you are on a medication that is documented to cause false positives, and DO NOT reveal which med this is. Offer, if necessary, to have your doctor write a confirmatory letter, without naming the med.

Given that I have not used illicit drugs, I would have been quite alarmed to receive a false positive. But I was equally concerned with my medical privacy, and did not want to have to reveal I am taking Sustiva needlessly. With a little bit of sleuthing, and with careful attention to my drug testing paperwork, I was able to take the test today with confidence.

Again, thank all three of you for your efforts here. It means a lot!!!

Best,

- D.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Dear D,

What valuable information for us to have! Thank you. I'm copying it to my colleagues and saving it for my own files. This question comes up often.

We can do so much better when generous people like you share what they've learned with us.

Nancy



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