Please Explain Doctor About Hiv 2 (HIV-2, HIV-2 TESTING, 2010)


Doctor, is Hiv 2 related to Hiv 1? That's it. Hope you answer and thanks.




As with so many questions cramming their way into my inbox, the information you request was already waiting for you in the archives. See below.

Dr. Bob

Questions on negative test (HIV-2, HIV-2 TESTING, 2009) Dec 19, 2009

Dear Robert,

I have lost 10-15lbs in my upper body in the last month or two and started researching possible causes online. When I saw that HIV could be a cause of this, I immediately went and got tested as I had a high risk exposure about 7 years ago. I have also recently noticed that I have alot of flaky skin, and I have a fungal nail infection on one of my feet so needless to say I was pretty worried as these are all early indicators of HIV progression.

I got my test back today and was relieved to find out it was negative, but the paper only mentions HIV-1ab testing. Is it possible that I have another strain of HIV? Is it worthwhile to get more thorough testing? All of my other bloodwork came back normal and I am still unable to explain this significant weight loss. The test I received was the ICMA test. Thanks!

Response from Dr. Frascino


HIV-2 is another human retrovirus that causes immune deficiency. It is found primarily in West Africa. Compared to HIV-1, HIV-2 is less transmissible and is associated with a lower viral load. This in turn leads to a slower rate of disease progression and CD4 depletion. The FDA has licensed HIV-2 antibody tests (EIA) and has been screening blood donors for the virus since 1992. Four FDA-approved rapid tests screen for HIV-2 (OraQuick, Multispot, VITROS and Clearview).

Between the year of 1987 and March of 2007, there have been 79 persons diagnosed with HIV-2 in the United States. Of these, 52 were born in West Africa and most of the rest had either traveled there or had a sexual partner from that region.

The CDC recommends HIV-2 testing for:

  1. Natives of West Africa.

  2. Needle-sharing and/or sex partners of folks from West Africa.

  3. Sex partners or needle-sharing partners of persons with HIV-2 infection.

  4. People who received transfusions or non-sterile injections in areas where HIV-2 is endemic (West Africa).

  5. Children of women with risk for HIV-2 infection.

From what you've written in your post, you do not meet the testing requirements.

I would consider your negative HIV-1 test seven years out from your last HIV-risk exposure definitive, conclusive and WOO-HOO-able. HIV is not your problem. No way. No how. No additional HIV tests are warranted.

"Symptoms" are notoriously unreliable in predicting who is and is not HIV infected. Your symptoms are not worrisome for nor suggestive of HIV acute retroviral syndrome (ARS).

Unfortunately, I can't diagnose the cause of your weight loss over the Internet. However, what I can do is advise what's not causing it: It's not HIV!

I'd suggest you follow up with your general medical doctor for evaluation of your weight loss problem.

Good luck. Happy Healthy Holidays.

Dr. Bob