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Author Topic: Please Help  (Read 1881 times)

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Offline overthemoon

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Please Help
« on: April 21, 2011, 08:10:47 PM »
In a foreign country I had what looked to be a positive HIV 1&2 antibody test. The test was "reactive" with less than 1,0 on the test being negative and greater than 1,0 being "reactive", my result was: 2,1 S/CO, or reactive. This was exactly 1 month after what I thought was exposure via insertive/receptive unprotected male-male sex. One week previously (3 weeks after assumed exposure) I began a very bad illness: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, potentially mouth/tongue discoloration and sores, and night sweats. After about 10 days (3 days after the test) the symptoms faded, but have continued to a certain extent for the last month: tiredness, night sweats, going to the bathroom at least twice or more/day and a general sense of "not well". I had begun to accept the fact of being positive, however, finally being in a city this week and in a place where I could seek out medical care, I was told I would need to retest to confirm before I could be enrolled in support programs. They said they would perform a rapid test, and then send away for confirmation.  At what is now almost exactly 2 months after (assumed exposure) and a little over one month after the start of the flu-like symptoms I had a Uni Gold rapid blood test that came back negative!! Needless to say I began to cry, I had begun to TRY to accept this and figure out a way to get into treatment, I was certain, and then this. In trying to subdue any optimism just yet, I realize that it is possible to still test negative on an antibody test at 8 weeks - the center suggested a viral load test (that they could not perform) and now I will not be anywhere near a place where I could have this test until sometime next week!! I am desperately trying to avoid any emotions of relief that try to overcome me - but this is just such a strange, strange situation. Please if anyone has any advice, or knows of a Dr. online or site that gives information about test results. I read some places that at 2 months an antibody test should be 95% accurate, some said even more, some said less. Also, after starting into what I had assumed following the test to be acute infection - seroconversion illness, would it not be likely to have antibodies 1 month post start of illness? Is the act of seroconversion and the illness mean that the body has begun to recognize and produce antibodies? I know that I need the viral load test to confirm, and then antibody testing at 3 months, but now a 2 months and with these results, what should I think while waiting to take the test next week. I wish I could go now, but I could not remain in the city for the test, and can not be back again until next week. I am mortified that over the next few days optimism will get the best of me, and then I will have to go though this all over again - I'm not sure my mind/spirit can take that right now.... Thank you very, very much for any help/thoughts/ideas/suggestions.

Offline overthemoon

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Re: Please Help
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2011, 08:27:01 PM »
I have read this:

"Usually when these symptoms begin presenting themselves, the body is well into the process of creating antibodies. It is that process that creates the seroconversion illness, and more often than not, a person will test positive at that time." Again, my illness began over 1 month ago, was intense for over a week, and the past 3 1/2 weeks has been 'mild'....

Offline Ann

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Re: Please Help
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2011, 07:12:23 AM »
Over,

You know, when you posted in the Just Tested forum, I had a feeling that you weren't actually hiv positive. And you're not. I've locked your thread over there. Do NOT post anywhere but this forum (Am I Infected) again. And yes, this is a stern warning.

The vast majority of people who have actually been infected will seroconvert and test positive by six weeks, with the average time to seroconversion being only 22 days. A six week negative must be confirmed at the three month point, but is highly unlikely to change. Same goes for your eight week negative. It's not going to change, but current protocol dictates that you need to confirm at three months.

It's true that if your illness had anything to do with hiv, you would have tested positive at eight weeks. The illness that sometimes accompanies seroconversion is not a result of the virus itself. It's a result of the process your body goes through while producing antibodies. The body produces various chemicals during this process - notably interferon - which makes you feel like you have the flu.

You really need to learn from this experience and start using condoms no matter where in the world you are and no matter who you are with.

Ann
Condoms are a girl's best friend

Condom and Lube Info  



"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline overthemoon

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Re: Please Help
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2011, 09:46:00 AM »
Dear Ann,
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your response.
Please believe me when I say I hope the 8 week test will not change. I know the mind is a powerful thing, but after over three weeks (post potential exposure) I had a horrible flu-like illness with symptoms I'd never had before , lasted for over 1 week. After about 8 days, received the 2,1 test result (1 being reactive) (true this was in a foreign country that likely does not do a great number of HIV tests, but the test was done at the largest, most respected, very modern "American" hospital, and I assumed this was a decent lab, actually I didn't even think about it, I just thought I was positive based on the test. Most nights since then I have had night sweats, and some loose bowl movements during the day. Now at 2 months (60-68 days) after the encounter I had a negative rapid test at one of the largest free clinics in New York City - this was after already registering with an ASO in New York and everything! - it was just for confirmation and then to begin the process of applying for treatment options, insurance, etc. Granted, after the support on the forum, I was the one to push at the clinic for rapid enrollment, etc. but they were confident in what I assumed was a positive result from the foreign hospital.

I know no one can be 100% sure, but have you heard many Doctors, and other long term experts like yourself confirm that one month after seroconversion symptoms (and 60 days after exposure) a 3rd generation rapid test would indeed pick up the antibodies that would have to be present in the body at this point. One last thing, I am not (as far as I am aware) infected with any immune system disorder, no chemotherapy, and I don't know how I would have gotten Hepatitis or another infection that would delay the production of antibodies.
Thank you again Ann for helping me and humoring my questions - I wish with all my heart I could get to a lab again right now and find out for sure with viral load tests, but I can't for nearly a week.

It terrifies me to say to you : 'I learned my lesson" because that is admitting to myself that I am not infected and I don't think I can deal with another complete test results process with another positive result if I convince myself I am negative. But I hope you believe me when I say, not only have I learned a lesson, I will be working for AIDS walk, donating any time and resources I can (which are somewhat limited in terms of resources but I can't think of a better cause) and working to find a cure for you and everyone infected. I'm starting to cry as I write this now, and am going to try and shut off the emotions again. Thank you again Ann...

Offline Ann

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    • Num is sum qui mentiar tibi?
Re: Please Help
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2011, 10:32:08 AM »
Over,

The main difference between the newest generation of hiv tests and the first generations of tests is that the newer ones usually also include p24 antigen testing. The p24 antigen is only present in the first few weeks before enough antibodies have been produced to register on the antibody portion of the test. The p24 antigen disappears as the antibodies appear.

Any generation of tests will normally pick up antibodies by six weeks and certainly by eight. The window period remains at three months to pick up the very rare person who takes slightly longer to test positive. It's just a case of "better safe than sorry".

But again, if your flu-like illness was your seroconversion, you would have tested positive at eight weeks. No doubt about it. The word seroconversion means your blood (serum - or sero in this case) has converted from hiv negative to hiv positive. You have not seroconverted and whatever was wrong with you was not a seroconversion illness. You'd been travelling in a foreign land and picked up some bug, quite possibly while flying. Airplanes are great places for passing on bugs because of the recirculating air systems.

Regarding your false positive results in another country, well, false positive hiv antibody tests happen for all sorts of reasons. Pregnancy (obviously not your problem) can cause them and so can an underlying autoimmune disease. Sometimes they just happen. This is why any positive antibody result MUST be confirmed with a Western Blot test. See this forum's Welcome Thread for a link to the Lesson on testing.

Ann
« Last Edit: April 22, 2011, 10:34:19 AM by Ann »
Condoms are a girl's best friend

Condom and Lube Info  



"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline overthemoon

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  • Posts: 9
Re: Please Help
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2011, 11:06:02 AM »
Dear Ann,

Thank you so much for your quick reply again. One final question for now, and I promise I will not bother you until I can get follow up testing again, including viral load, next week - but until then, based on everything you now know about me, the test results first around one month, now at just over 60, and the situation of unprotected sex, how confident would you be that I was hiv negative?
Should I really, truly allow my mind to rest, or is there even a 1% chance that I am in for a positive test, or will have a  high viral load test next week?   Thank you again Ann for everything.


Offline Ann

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  • It just is, OK?
    • Num is sum qui mentiar tibi?
Re: Please Help
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2011, 11:10:46 AM »
Over,

Why are you testing again next week? You shouldn't test again until the three month point and you certainly do not need a viral load test.

However, if you decide to be stubborn and get a VL done anyway, make sure they're using an RNA PCR test, NOT a DNA one. DNA PCR tests are NOT approved for diagnostic purposes because they have a high rate of false positive results and the last thing you need is another one of those.

I'm very confident that you will continue to test negative.

Ann
Condoms are a girl's best friend

Condom and Lube Info  



"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline overthemoon

  • Member
  • Posts: 9
Re: Please Help
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2011, 01:15:54 PM »
Hi Again,

I'm doing my best to make it though this waiting time without going crazy now, coolstone has been a great help with advice, as have you Ann. I wanted to ask your opinion on something as well.

What are the chances GMHC in New York could have messed up a rapid uni gold blood test? They must do a ton of these every day, and before they share results the onsite Dr. also looks at the test result and signs off on the paper along with the guy who performed the test.....

What is driving me crazy is the question of who messed up - the foreign hospital or the clinic in New York?

I even asked in NY for another test, and the guy said no need, the (negative) result would remain the same. He said the way to know was to have a viral load test. I had not really discussed the 8 week timeframe with him, he knew I had been at recent risk.

I guess what I am trying to get to, is if anyone has an idea how often free clinics/testing centers in New York make the wrong call on rapid test results, i.e. do not see faint line, or any other number of reasons ........

Thank you very, very much for humoring my questions in what is a crazy situation, I figure that asking you who really knows the community, science and research out there, I might be able to get a better idea of what is going on during this incredibly difficult wait....

Offline Ann

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  • It just is, OK?
    • Num is sum qui mentiar tibi?
Re: Please Help
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2011, 08:28:57 AM »
Over,

I can understand why this situation is making you anxious. What I would advise you to do is to test at the three month point and collect what I fully expect to be another negative result. GMHC isn't the only game in town - use the Health Services Directory I directed you to previously to find out where else you can test for free. But please, don't abuse the free services and if you can, leave a small donation.

I already explained to you about going the viral load route. You really shouldn't bother with it - it's expensive and you don't need it. See my previous post to you about PCR (VL) testing.

If I were you, I'd trust your results at GMHC over the ones you got elsewhere. They know their stuff at GMHC.

Hang in there. All the evidence points to the fact that you are genuinely hiv negative. Test at the three month point to know for sure and put this behind you.

Ann


edited for clarity
« Last Edit: April 24, 2011, 08:36:16 AM by Ann »
Condoms are a girl's best friend

Condom and Lube Info  



"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

 


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