Posted by Carl D (220.127.116.11) on September 20, 2001 at 20:19:37:
This is to answer your question Flash, regarding the error that can be made in an HIV test, and the difference in the testing procedures. I wrestled with whether or not to just email this to you, or to post it. I figured it might be information that could be useful to someone else one day, so I am posting it here. I can only explain it as I understand it.
The standardized test is also known as a non-specific test. This test is a very common test, and it consists of two separate blot tests. The first is the Elisa blot test (unsure of exact spelling), and the second is a Western blot test. When a person is HIV negative, the Western blot has come back as negative, and the Elisa is either negative as well, or has not formed. If the Elisa is +, but the Western is negative, the person may have another form of infection in the body, such as an upper respiratory infection (which I had coupled with pnuemonia). The Western blot is the one that counts, so if a person Western blot comes back positive, but the Elisa failed to form or shows unreactive, the person has a 90% chance of HIV activating in the system, but at this point they are undetectable. This is what they call Indeterminate. It means they cannot say 100% for sure that the person is HIV+, but they cannot say they are not either. If both blot tests form as positive, then the result is a 100% HIV positive as well.
Detailed count test:
This is a very specific test, in which they check all of your chemical counts in your system. The two that are most informative in this is the Viral Load count and the T-Cell counts. It actually searches the system for any hint of HIV antibody activity, and even if a person has just been exposed to HIV in the last few days, it can be detected. It also tests and detects for Hepatitis A, B, & C as well. Anyone who fears they may have been exposed to HIV through a partner, or through rape can have this test done, and it will show if the person has been exposed.
I was very fortunate that though my first test (the standardized test) came back as Indeterminate, giving me 90% odds, but my counts all showed unreactive, and no sign of exposure to HIV, or hepatitis A, B or C. In fact, the only thing they told me showed up is that my potassium level is low. So, I have added that to my daily regimin of vites & herbs, and hoping for the best. The Doctor I went to for the second test was very informative, and helped me to understand what exactly was going on, so I knew what to expect. I just consider myself fortunate, and more informed on such a serious issue as HIV, as I know a few people with it. I figure the better I understand this disease and its effects on people, the more support I can offer.
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