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HIV and AIDS

Are The Results A False Positive?

04/19/1999

Question:

My boyfriend and I have been having sex (unprotected) for a while now and he recently went to give blood. The American Red Cross called to tell him they have detected the HIV virus in his blood stream, but there were no antibodies detected. I am the only person he has ever been with and I was tested for HIV before I had sex with him. The test for me was negative. What are the chances of the test being a mistake and should I be concerned?

Answer:

Without knowing the exact names and results of the HIV tests you are referring to, I am not able to tell you more about your exact situation. But in general, there is always the possibility that a test result could be wrong -- a "false positive". Since it involves an infection as serious as HIV, I suggest that you and your boyfriend go together to get retested at a doctor`s office or public HIV testing site. If there is any question about the results, more sophisticated testing can then be done. I think you should also ask yourself why you are not using barrier protection. It is a little more inconvenient, but unless you are attempting to get pregnant, you are taking a certain amount of risk when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases. And you can really never know if your partners responses about his prior sexual or drug experiences, HIV status or even if you are in a monogamous relationship are true. Too often I have been referred new HIV-positive patients for care who thought they were safe because they thought they knew the answers to such questions. Caring for your own safety should be a big priority. Good luck.

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Response by:

Kenneth   Skahan, MD Kenneth Skahan, MD
Assistant Professor in Infectious Diseases
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati