Can Other Bloodwork Indicate Possible HIV Infection?

Question

After I was diagnosed about 14 months ago, my partner got tested twice and was negative thankfully. He insists on performing unprotected oral sex on me as he believes the risk is very low. I know that, too, but still worry.

Anyway, he had a physical for his job and his WBC, RBC, Hemoglobin, and Hematocrit were all low. Since he has insisted on doing oral sex, I have watched for any signs of seroconversion illness. I know that doesn't happen to everyone and isn't a good indicator. Just wondering if these or other labs could indicate an HIV infection? I always thought the WBC would be high in someone fighting an infection, so I'm probably worrying for no reason. I've told him he needs to get tested at least once a year, but he thinks it isn't necessary because of oral being a very low risk.

Answer

Hi,

The only test that gives an indication of HIV is an HIV-specific test. Other tests, such as the ones you listed cannot be used as surrogate indicators for HIV.

I agree with both you and your partner: Oral sex carries a very low risk. However, it's important to realize "very low" is not "nonexistent." Consequently I feel your recommendation that your partner get HIV tested annually is reasonable. I also think you and your partner need to have a very serious discussion about HIV transmission risk. You need to decide together what level of risk you are both willing to accept. If you don't both agree, sex will always be anxiety provoking for one of you. I'd suggest you both read through the chapter on magnetic couples in the archives of this forum. You'll find testimonials from other couples with similar concerns. As always, communication is key.

Be well.

Dr. Bob