False negative on rapid HIV test (oral)

Question

Quick question/story. Yesterday I went to a local clinic to have a rapid hiv test done just to ease my mind. No known exposure ever in my life. Tested neg in 2005 and had my child in 2007 who is fine and healthy. Since getting pregnant only 3 partners, all of which I know were clean. In any event they did the test and it came back with a faint line, so he told me I was positive. I begged them to do a 2nd one. This one came back completely negative. He even got confirmation from the clinic director that nothing was visible. I begged him to do a third test, this time swabbing my gums so hard they bled and to my surprise and the clinics it came back negative as well. I did the confirmatory test but the results won't be back for a week, and I saw my doctor yesterday who told me that he was pretty sure I would be negative but did labwork to confirm. I am freaking out right now, and seriously considered killing myself yesterday. Can someone please tell me what this all means? If I were ever exposed it would have been in 2005, so I would assume that it would have shown a true positive all three times on the test. I'm so scared right now I can hardly function.

Answer

Hi,

You did not have a "false negative" test but rather a "false positive" test! Your first test showing a "faint line" should not have been read as positive. Your negative HIV status was confirmed and reconfirmed by your two subsequent negative tests. I'm absolutely confident you are not infected. All positive preliminary screening tests (rapid, EIA, ELISA) require a confirmatory, more specific, test, such as a Western Blot test, before an HIV-positive diagnosis can be made.

If you are considering harming yourself and "can hardly function," you should seek the help of a psychiatrist without delay. Your fears of being HIV infected are totally unwarranted. Peruse the information in the archives of this forum. I'm confident you'll find it both enlightening and comforting.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob