negative at 5 months, but still fatigue and pain

Question

Dear Dr.Robert, You are the angel. I really appreciate your exellent work. I was lucky to find your forum, and it is you who support me to go through my last 5 months.It was really hard for me. I had oral sex with a man of unkown status 5 months ago. I got blood test result today. It was HIV-1 AB SCREEN W/REFL test. The result is NON-REACTIVE.But there is something I don't understand in the note. The note is:"A non-reactive result indicates that HIV-1(HTLV-III) antibodies have not been found in this patient specimen. A non-reactive result, however, does not prelude previous exposure or infection with HIV-1". I don't understand the last sentance in the note. Does that means that I am still possibly infected with HIV-1? By the way, for the whole past 5months,I experienced serious headache, muscule and joint pain, some small red pots on my upper legs.And the symptoms still exist now. My legs still feel tired often. No fever or diarrhea so far. Will I need to do another test later on? What other STDs do I need to get tested? Still worried. Please answer my question. God bless

Answer

Hello,

WOO-HOO, you are negative. That note about "does not preclude previous exposure or infection with HIV" is a disclaimer. If, for instance, you had an exposure 2 weeks ago, and went for HIV testing today, the test might indeed come back negative, even though you are HIV positive. This is because there wasn't enough time for your body to make anti-HIV antibodies, which are what the test screens for. In other words, if you took the test too early, it wouldn't be accurate, so they put that statement on the bottom of the report. However in your case, a negative test at 5 months, following a relatively low-risk exposure, is conclusive. You don't need any other HIV tests.

If you have any symptoms, they are not related to HIV, and your primary care doctor should be able to help you with those.

So go ahead, WOO-HOO! Congratulations! Stay well.

Dr. Bob