anonymous on September 2, 2011

When do I need to have HIV tests to rule out a false negative?

If I had HIV-1/2 (EIA) antibody tests done at six weeks, 11 weeks and five days, and 17 weeks and two days…and all came back negative, do I need more testing? Or can I move on with my life?

answered by Daniel Perlman, MD, MBA on September 2, 2011

by getting tested. It sounds like you’re taking the right steps to make sure you are healthy. Now, to answer your questions:

HIV antibody tests are highly accurate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 97% of HIV-positive people will have detectable antibodies within three months (12 weeks). If your test results have consistently come back negative, particularly after your final two tests, you can put your worries to rest and move on with your life. You can learn about so-called “testing windows” in our STD Testing Windows Guide; and you read more detailed information about HIV testing in ourExpert Guide to HIV.

Be sure to practice safer sex. You didn’t mention your sexual history, but you can greatly reduce your risk of exposure to HIV and other STDs by practicing safer sex with condoms and/or dental dams; being monogamous (having sex with only one partner); and getting tested regularly for a common STDs…including chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, hepatitis, HIV and syphilis.

If you have multiple sexual partners, I encourage you to consider getting tested more often…every six months. And every time you have a new sexual partner, you can cut down your STD risk if both of you get tested before you engage in any sexual activity. Testing is the only way to know each other’s STD status for sure.

Should you test positive for HIV in the future, detecting it early will help your regular doctor treat the virus and keep you as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Many HIV-positive people, with appropriate treatment, live long, healthy lives and never get AIDS.

Thank you for your thoughtful questions. I hope I was able to put your fears to rest and I wish you the best of health as you move forward with your life.

Related info:

Daniel Perlman, MD, MBA

Dr. Perlman is a Colorado-based infectious disease specialist (including HIV and other STDs) in private practice at Greater Denver Infectious Diseases. Additionally, he is Assistant Clinical Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Dr. Perlman was educated at theUniversity of Maryland School of Medicine, and completed his residency in internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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