[Question #135] HIV false negative results

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105 months ago
Hi Doctor, 
I am a male who had a brief unprotected sex with an african woman CSW in France .In an effort to put this behind me I was tested 
for HIV 3 times:

 1.abbot architect combo 6 weeks after my last exposure.
 2. abbot architect combo 3 month after my last exposure.
 3. abbot architect combo 8 month after my last exposure in a diffrent lab.

I became worried about HIV because 11 weeks after the exposure when I started to have similar symptoms to ARS which continued for
 1.5 weeks as follows :

high FEVER around 38.3, mouth ulcers :very pain white spots on my inner bottom lips ,extreme pain muscles in my legs and arm-fingers,

After 5 days everything went away and came back to normal.

I know that symptoms are unreliable, but considering myself to be healthy overall and not having had many health issues prior.

My Questions?  

  1. Could ars start on week 11?
  2. Does my result conclusive for hiv2?
  2. What are the chances of getting 3 false negative results (due to lab error)? 
  3.Do you recommend retesting?  

Your help would be appreciated. Thank you.
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105 months ago
If I may i will add another Questions:
4. Have you ever saw or read about a person that had more then 2 false negetive results from 6 weeks after last exposure?

Best Regads,
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H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
105 months ago

Greetings. Welcome to the forum.


The news is good: you definitely do not have HIV from your exposure in France. The HIV tests are much more reliable than exposure history and symptoms. Your symptoms really are not typical of HIV, despite what you seem to have concluded from online research. But even if they were, the test results rule as long as enough time has passed between exposure and testing -- and the combo tests are 100% reliable any time after 4 weeks.  To your specific questions:


1) No. ARS symptoms cannot start later than 2-3 weeks after exposure.


2) Yes. The combo test detects antibody to HIV2. Also, unless your African partner was from the small area of Africa where HIV2 exists (e.g., Cameroon), it is very unlikely she has HIV2.


2a) Zero. There is no realistic chance of lab error, certainly not three times.


3) No. You should not have any more HIV tests, assuming no new exposure.


4) It happens that I have never heard of 2 or more false negative combo tests in a single patient. I've never heard of it happening even once, if the test was done 4+ weeks after exposure.  But this is irrelevant anyway. Rare things happen. Whether I have or have not taken care of a patient struck by lightning, does it change the chance you will be struck? 


So you truly need not be at all worried about HIV from this exposure. Do your best to move on without worry.


I hope these comments have been helpful. Best wishes -- HHH, MD

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105 months ago
Dr. Handsfield,  thank you very much.

You have helped me :)