[Question #1961] HIV home rapid tests safety

46 months ago
Hello doctor 

I live in France, and I want to confirm how completely safe HIV rapid test kits are. The HIV rapid test kit I used is called (autotest HIV) which can be bought from pharmacies for everyone, please see how it works in its official video tutorial here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geLDPUJ855w&t=12s

I think it uses recombinant proteins as the HIV antigens of HIV 1&2 which is planted on the sample pad. The way it works is a blood specimen is taken from the finger tip through the testing device, and you wait 15 minutes. It's negative if only the Control line appears, but if you get both both Test and Control lines then it is a positive. My test was negative, but after finishing using the kit I broke the testing device to see how it looks inside, I was stupid enough to touch the strip lines (sample pad) with my pricked finger. Now I have fears so I need your help please:
1-As far as I know, those rapid test kits (whatever their country of fabrication, type, or mark) contain viral antigens/proteins which can bind to the antibodies found in the blood if the person is infected, am I right?
2- Is the testing device and its ingredients/components dangerous or infectious when entering the body?
3- Are the HIV recombinant proteins/antigens used in the kit infectious or can cause infection with HIV? 

Thank you.
46 months ago
I just read on the official website of the kit that it is a blood test based on an immunochromatographic assay.

Thank you for answering my questions because I'm really worried.
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
46 months ago
Welcome back to the forum.

You correctly understand the scientific basis of the rapid blood tests.

1) Yes, this is correct. HIV is the same the world over, and all tests perform similarly, no matter where designed, produced, or packaged.

2,3) No. The tests do not contain complete HIV or its genetic material, and exposure to the test materials cannot result in HIV infection.

The kinds of exposure discussed in your question a few months ago could not have caused HIV infection. If those are the only sorts of exposure you are concerned about, then you do not need HIV testing. But if you go ahead with testing, either because of possible true exposure or just to reassure yourself, you need not worry about the test itself. There is no risk of HIV or any other health problem from using the tests.

I hope this information is helpful. Let me know if anything isn't clear.

HHH, MD

---
46 months ago
Doctor I need your scientific help again, I understand the basis of the immunity system so a bad scenario came across my head and I need your opinion:
So the hiv antigens contained in the testing device if they entered my body through my pricked finger, my body will recognize them as foreign substances and will produce antibodies to bind them, so if I test for hiv in the future my test will come positive without having the disease itself, what do you think of this scenario? It freaks me out.
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
46 months ago
This has never been reported to happen. First, no antigen can get into your body by using the home self test (or any other HIV test). And in any case, nobody has ever reported a false positive HIV blood test on account of HIV antigen getting into the blood. Third, if somehow that happened, a confirmatory test -- which is always done when initial HIV testing is done -- would reveal the truth that you did not have HIV. This is an irrational worry.

Based on this and your previous question, it is clear that you are abnormally, irrationally obsessed with non-sexual means of being infected with HIV or testing positive for it. Abnormal fear of contagion can be a sign of serious mental health disability. (For an excellent example where this can lead, see "The Aviator", the film biography of Howard Hughes. It's an excellent movie, by the way, with Leonardo DiCaprio.) If this is consuming your life as much as I suspect, please consider mental health counseling. I suggest it from compassion, not criticism.

---
46 months ago
Yes I have  HIV phobia since 6 years now, mostly from blood exposure in the environment, and especially having fears from getting cuts when I'm at the barbershop.

So let's recapitulate:

1- All rapid blood tests bought from pharmacies don't contain infectious virus particles/genetic material right? The test I bought is fabricated in France and I bought it from a pharmacy near my home. Please assure me doctor.

2-You said that even if I touched the testing pad with my pricked wounded finger the HiV antigens won't enter my blood stream right? But why? Because they are fixed on the membrane so they can not move out?

3-An important question, here in France the guidelines and official recommendations for HIV testing in laboratories say that testing should be done 6 weeks after an exposure for a reliable result, but here you always say that at 4 weeks it is totally valid reliable, why? Is testing with 4th generation at 4 weeks only is 100% conclusive and accurate? Can I safely bypass the official guidelines?

4- I don't have any sexual activities, and I don't take drugs by any means, so can I stop worrying about getting infected with HIV for the whole of my life? Even if I accedently touched blood, or got cuts from barbershops?

Thank you doctor, I hope to get relieved from your answers 
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
46 months ago
1,2) You correctly understand my comments above. I'm not an expert on the manufacture and structure of the test kits. But nobody has ever had a positive test as a result of getting tested with these kits, and if the kits are used as instructed, there is no possibility of introducing HIV antigen or other test reagents into the body.

3) That some governments or health agencies take different positions on time to conclusive testing are policy decision, not scientific ones. The scientific consensus is that 4th gen testing is 100% conclusive and accurate at 4 weeks, even though some agencies may still say 6 weeks or, in some cases, even 3 or 6 months.

4) Correct: If you only have safe sex and do not share drug injection equipment with other persons, you will never get HIV. No other precautions are necessary.

You correctly recognize your own phobia. If these fears are seriously affecting your life and happiness (which I think they are), then please consider professional counseling. I recommend it from compassion, not criticism. These fears are not going to go away by hearing the scientific facts or other expert opinions. That's in the nature of phobias.

For those reasons, this forum cannot help you further. The forum does not permit repeated questions on the same topic or exposure, and future new questions about these fears and HIV testing will be deleted without reply and without refund of the posting fee. This policy is based on compassion, not criticism, and is designed to reduce temptations to keep paying for questions with obvious answers. Also, continued answers tend to prolong users' anxieties, when professional counseling is the real need. Finally, such questions have little educational value for other users, one of the forum's main purposes. I trust you will understand.

Best wishes to you.
---