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False negatives? Am I infected with HIV? Please help..

Question: 

Hi, I had sex with a sex worker 9 months ago and for a short period my condom fell off that I had to put it back on. One week later I had fly like symtoms with site troar and fever. I had sweat nights almost in whole week. The site groat lasted for almost a months and the fever came back two more times in a two months period. Since I had flu syntoms and due to the risk exposure, I went to the hospital but they had no idea of what i had even though I told them what happened. I was seriously suspecting if hug infection. Then I went to see an infectologist and he recommended PCR. I tested three almost 4 weeks after exposure and the result came back no reactive. Actually I tested for everything and all resume came negative. That was a relieve but as I mentioned earlier the flue like symthoms continued so I went to see an specialist for the troat and she said that it appeared there was a resistive bacteria so she prescribed me a strong antibiotic. Because I was still suspecting I tested again with PCR. It was aver the 10 week already after the exposure. The results came back again no reactive. I recovered from that apparently trust infection. I called the infectilogist with the news and he assured me that I had no job. However, now after 9 months (36 weeks later) I have itches on my body (abdomen and left butt). I went to the doctor and told them the whole situation. He said that the rush is because of scabies. I'm not sure about that as my hands and wrists are not itching. Anyway I asked him to order hiv tests for me once again. I am very very scared that I can't sleep. Do you think that I was getting false negatives and I'm infected?

Answer: 

Hello, thank you for contacting AIDS Vancouver and I am happy to help answer your question.

It seems that you are distressed about the symptoms you are experiencing. We do not look at symptoms as indicators of HIV because symptoms can be very similar to symptoms of other viral infections, like the flu. I encourage you to continue partnering with your doctor if your symptoms are distressing you. But when we are talking about HIV, testing is the only way you can know your HIV status, so lets focus on testing.

You mentioned that you took the PCR test. The PCR test (Polymerase Chain Reaction test, also called the NAAT test) measures how much HIV virus is in the blood by detecting the genetic material of HIV. The test results are:

  • 90% accurate at 10-12 days after exposure

  • 95-98% accurate at 6 weeks after exposure

  • Results are conclusive at 12 weeks after exposure

You described that you have been tested at 10 weeks after exposure, and results have a high accuracy of 95-98% at that point. However if you are still worried and a conclusive result may help have a peace of mind, I encourage you to get tested again at 12 weeks after exposure to have a final result.

If you would like to learn more about HIV, please visit our website ( http://www.aidsvancouver.org/ ) and please contact us again if you have more questions or concerns.

All the best,

Risa, Helpline volunteer