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Forum Name: AIDS

Question: Accuracy of oral HIV tests


 angelpie545 - Sun Mar 16, 2008 12:09 am

I have been having some very confusing symptoms that have been getting progressively worse over nearly four years now. Last year I had an oral swab test for HIV, which was negative, and was told that I did not require the blood test, and that I was fine. This was at a Planned Parenthood. However, due to some medical errors they have made recently, I am beginning to question a lot of information that I have received there. So, hence my question, do I still require a blood test to determine if I am really HIV negative, or is a negative oral swab a good enough indicator?
 Alexandra C, RN - Fri Mar 21, 2008 11:13 am

Hello angelpie545,

With all antibody tests for HIV, there is a "window-period" during which it is possible to test negative despite HIV infection. This is because the tests work by detecting antibodies to HIV, and it takes time after infection for the body to make enough antibodies to be detected. The amount of time necessary varies, many people will have measurable levels of antibodies about 20-30 days after exposure; in others it may take 6 months before antibodies are detectable. The practitioner who concluded that you did not need any further testing after your negative oral fluid test result likely based this decision on your history and risk factors. If you had a history of significant recent risk factors, the practitioner would likely recommend a repeat test in, say 3-6 months. If you had no risk factors in the six months prior to the test, it is very likely that your negative result was accurate. If you are concerned that you may be infected, please get tested again. If you are infected, it is essential to know so that you can be treated properly and to prevent infecting others, and if you are not, I think you would feel much better having confirmation that you are okay. The oral fluid test is quite accurate, so you can feel comfortable using that method again. Good luck to you!
 angelpie545 - Fri Mar 21, 2008 7:32 pm

Thank you very much. I can see now why my practitioner didn't recommend further testing; my risk factors are very low. At the time I was tested I had been with the same partner (my husband) for several years, so if he was infected or if I had been the antibodies would have shown up by then. I am still married so nothing has changed in that department, so I don't think I need any further testing.

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