Conclusive negative? (OVER TESTING LEADING TO FALSE POSITIVE RESULT, 2011)

Question

Hi Doctor:

Great site. You're awesome.

Here's my story. Is my test conclusive? I had a "slighly positive" quick test in Month 30th in China (at a clinic here), but was then re-tested "negative / non reactive" in Hong Kong at a reputable hospital HIV 1/2 ab combo with P24 antigen. Do I need to retest? I have not had any risky activity since (actually no sex since and only fooled around with my girlfriend)

Here's my story. I'm a guy who had protected oral and fingering with a female CSW in Nov 2007, 3.5 years ago. Was very very worried about risk of HIV.

Then tested at 18 days in NY Health services, who gave me the NAT test (claimed good at 15 days) and was negative.

Had a DNA PCR at 1 month - negative

Tested oraquick at 1 month, 2 month, 3 month all negative

Then 18th month, was worried again and had a HIV 1 & 2, ab combo with P24 antigen. Negative

Then at month 30, I was working in China and decided to test again (was about to propose to my gf). At a clinic for expats, I was tested slightly positive. I asked them to re-run the test and it was slightly positive again.

So I rushed back to Hong Kong and went to a very reputable hospital to run the hiv 1/2 ab combo with P24 antigen. The next day it came back negative.

Am I conclusively negative? Should I retest? I tried putting this behind me but my mind keeps thinking the what ifs.

Thank you doctor.

Answer

Hi,

Yes, you are indeed conclusively HIV negative. HIV is not your problem. No way. No how. No additional HIV testing is warranted. Your "slightly positive" (I don't really even know what that means!) results were false "slightly positive" results as confirmed by the many (excessive!) other HIV tests you had, including the follow-up negative HIV-1 and HIV-2 combo with p24 antigen taken the day after your "slightly positive" results.

Your story is an excellent example of why I very strongly advise against getting unnecessary and repetitive HIV tests. Even though someone (like you) is definitively and conclusively HIV negative, if he continues to take test after test, eventually he will get a false-positive result (again like you!).

Your HIV-acquisition risk was essentially nonexistent, assuming the latex condom was used properly and did not break and the skin on your fingering fingers was intact. HIV testing, if warranted at all, should have been limited to a single HIV-antibody test at the three-month mark!

Your excessive testing and "what iffing" merely complicated what should have been an uncomplicated situation. It also led to increased stress and anxiety, not less!

Forum readers who are frequent over-testers, I do hope you are reading this and paying attention!

Dr. Bob