Rapid Test and HIV test results

Question

If a known HIV positive individual whose viral load is "undetectable" is there a possibility that if he takes an HIV Rapid test that his test results will produce a "non-reactive' (negative)reading?

Answer

Hello,

Nope! This question comes up frequently. (Check the archives!) Briefly, plasma HIV viral load measures viral activity. HIV-antibody tests, such as the rapid test, check to see if someone is infected or not by assaying for anti-HIV antibodies. Anti-HIV antibodies are circulating proteins made by the immune system in response to HIV infection. Once someone is HIV infected, they remain HIV-antibody positive, whether or not the HIV viral load is "detectable." An undetectable HIV viral load merely means the viral activity is below the level of detection of the specific test being used. It does not mean HIV-antibody negative or that the person is no longer infected with the virus.

Dr. Bob