Rapid vs. Traditional Blood Testing


Dr. Bob,

First of all, I would like to thank your for your heroic efforts here and in the medical field. I also really appreciate your sense of humor, which without any doubt, helps scared or panicking peole who come to this site.

I had a no risk event which included just oil massage on neck, shoulders and back by hands, no intercourses (oral, vaginal or anal), no body fluid exchanges and no kissing and was not even mutual masturbation (no touching each other's genital). Yes, I know, my fear was absolutely irrational and unwarranted, but I went to get tested at 5 weeks mark. Under circumstances where risks existed, this would not be a CDC-certified or Dr. Bob certified hoo-woo'able result, but since risks DID NOT exist in my case to begin with, I feel I can put this behind now. Again, I really would like to thank your site's helping me through the darkest time (I made sure I was only reading this site and another similarly credible site where REAL experts provide advises).

As the closure to this scary experience, I would like to ask a question as to your rationale of recommending rapid test for my fellows haunted by irrational fear without really having been exposed to any risks. My past 4 days (since I went to have my blood drawn on Friday last week till today) was an ABSOLUTE hell. All I thought about was when I would get my result back and put this fear behind, so from my own experience, I can totally understand rapid test makes sense since it would get you the result in 20 minutes (with which I would have not had to waste my weekend). On the other hand, my understanding is that rapid test has a higher false-positive rate which would put a person in another hell of waiting for the confirmatory testing. I know neither test is 100% perfect, but when I thought about the higher false-positive rate, I chose the traditional testing, but it was a difficult decision regardless. I would appreciate your comment.



Hello T,

I agree your fears were indeed "absolutely irrational and unwarranted," particularly because you obviously knew your activities were "no risk"! I'd strongly suggest you seek counseling (psychotherapy) to help you confront and conquer these irrational fears. Testing after every "no-risk" event is obviously untenable and not recommended.

As for rapid tests versus ELISA or other laboratory assays, both are very accurate, sensitive and specific. Often the ability to get a result within 20 minutes rather than several days is the only thing that allows extremely anxious folks to endure the testing process. As for folks haunted by irrational fears from no-risk events, they don't need testing. Rather, they need counseling (psychotherapy), which is exactly what I'm strongly recommending for you.

Dr. Bob