[Question #2094] Oraquick home test - 3 negative results reliable?

47 months ago
I had unprotected vaginal sex with an African American man I dated for 4 months. 8 days after the risk event I had horrible flu-like symptoms for 5  days. Two months or so later I developed a rash on my chest and neck. I still have the rash it's been about 2 months. I've also lost weight. I am so scared. 

I took 3 separate Oraquick Home Oral Swab tests at weeks 20, 21, and 22. They were all negative. Should I rely on these negative results or get lab testing by a professional? My concern with the results is based on my symptoms and the endless caution about Oraquick's Home test false negatives. Thank you in advance for your help and this admirable service. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
47 months ago
Welcome to the Forum.  I'll try to help.  Part of your question relates to whether or not your flu-like illness or your rash might be the ARS (Acute Retroviral Syndrome).  The answer is no.  The ARS describes the syndrome characterized by high fever, sore throat, muscle and joint aches, and sometimes either a rash or diarrhea, all of which occur at about the same time within 3-4 weeks of a sexual exposure.  The fact that your flu--like illness and rash were separated in time suggest that they are not the ARS.  Further and even more importantly, when persons have the ARS there're HIV blood tests are typically positive.  Thus based on your test results, you can be confident that your symptoms were not due to HIV.

Secondly, you ask about the reliability of the OraQuick home test for HIV detection.  This test tests only for HIV antibodies and is not the preferred test for HIV diagnosis as it may take longer to become positive than lab-based tests for HIV antibodies (which are typically positive at 8 weeks after exposure) or the currently preferred combination HIV antigen/antibody tests ( these latter tests detect nearly all infections by 4 weeks after exposure).  Having said that the OraQuick test is highly reliable 10-12 weeks after exposure and I would have great confidence in the results of three separate tests performed more than20 weeks after an exposure.  You do not have HIV from your exposure nearly six months ago.

Finally, if your rash were due to HIV, your test would have been positive.  I would look for another non-STI cause for your rash.  

I hope these comments are helpful.  EWH
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47 months ago
Dr. Hook, 
Your response was most helpful. I appreciate the level of detail you provided for each aspect of my situation. I am pleased with the negative results and I trust they are accurate based on your professional response. I will see my PCP about the rash. 

This has been an agonizing experience and you have alleviated my fear with factual information, plan to donate to support the continuation of this amazing  service and the amazing people who provide it! 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
47 months ago
Thaks for your thanks.  It's a pleasure to be able to help. EWH
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