HIV - Prevention Forum
This expert forum is not accepting new questions. Please post your question in one of our medical support communities.
Avatar universal

Test accuracy??? I'm concerned

Hello Doctor,

Over 6 years ago I paid to have sex with someone (sex worker, I was young and dumb) and while intercourse the condom broke... I quickly noticed it and stopped. 2 months ago I noticed bumps on my penis and went to the doctor, she automatically said they were genital warts and prescribed an ointment. She also recommended I have an HIV test done so I did (had blood drawn). It took 5 days for me to get the results back and in those 5 days I researched the HIV virus and noticed that I had a few of the symptoms such as fatigue and constant upper respiratory infections. I got married last year and have only had 3 partners in my lifetime (including my wife & sex worker). In the past 5 years I have only been with my wife. Those 5 days of waiting felt like 5 years, I was extremely worried, stressed, I couldn't sleep... for all 5 days that was the only thing in my mind. So day 5 came around, I went to see my doc for the results and she said they were negative. I really thought that I would feel better after hearing those words but I didn't, the first thought that came to mind was "Did they mess up my test??". I've done some research on hiv test accuracy and everyone (including CDC) mentions they are over 99% accurate. Is this true? Since I got my results I still "think" that I am infected with the virus and it's really consuming most of my life. A week after the test I got diarrhea and bad unexplainable abdominal pain. I am currently seeing a GI specialist since my PCP was unable to provide me with a diagnosis on the diarrhea & ab pain (which I still have, it comes and goes). A few days ago I also got a mouth sore, looks like a white pimple inside of my bottom lip... I know that some of these symptoms could be related to the hiv virus. My wife is studying to be a nurse and I share everything with her and she continiously says that I don't have the virus but I just can't get that in my head and these other symptoms I'm having are not helping. Do you think I should continue to worry? Something else I should note is that a week prior to being tested I was taking oral prednizone (40 mg a day for 5 days) and an antibiotic for my sinus infection. Could these medications have caused a false negative? Is it necessary for me to be tested again?

On the genital warts, my PCP said it was the HPV virus... is it true that there is no test a male can take to confirm you have HPV? Since I saw my doctor (8-10 weeks ago) I've been using (off and on, not like I should be) Aldara for the warts, they seem to be disappearing but very slowly. Should I have these removed? I read that it can take up to 16 weeks for the warts to be gone. What type of doc should remove these? PCP or dermatologist? Can HPV be transmitted to new borns? my wife and are thinking of having a baby.

I think that it's for now. This is a great forum!

Thanks in advanced for your assistance!

6 Responses
239123 tn?1267651214
You can rely 100% on any HIV test done 3 months after the last possible exposure.  You don't say what your risks have been since your commercial sex contact 6 years ago, but from your question I assume you have not otherwise been at risk.  Nothing "messes up" an HIV test, with the possible exception of profound immune deficiency of the sort seen in someone near death from advanced cancer or potent chemotherapy.  Prednisone doesn't do it.  Thus, your symptoms cannot be due to HIV.

Saying your genital warts were due to HPV is like saying a cold is caused by a cold virus; all genital warts are due to HPV, usually type 6 or type 11.  It is true there is no test for men to check for asymptomatic HPV infection, but you don't need a test because you know you are infected.

Aldara is not the greatest medication for warts, and the slow response you are experiencing is typical.  Other treatments are available; you should ask your provider about them.  If in doubt, seeing a dermatologist is a good bet.  In the meantime, don't worry about having a baby.  HPV is not commonly transmitted to newborns, and in any case if/when your wife is pregnant, her obstetrical provider can be on the lookout for warts.  It really isn't a serious risk.

I hope this helps.  Thanks for the thanks about the forum.  Best wishes--  HHH, MD
Avatar universal
I forgot to mention that with my HIV test I was also tested for siphilis, should I get more STD testing done? Both tests were negative.

Thanks again!
Avatar universal
I've been where you are.  I'm not an M.D. but while you're waiting for Dr. HHH to respond...  He answered questions like yours recently on the other STD site before it stopped taking HIV queries.  (1) You tested negative!  Accept the good news!  (2) Stress, including HIV anxiety, can cause the GI problems you describe.  (3) The meds you describe wouldn't have affected your HIV test either way.  If I'm wrong, Dr. HHH will correct me in his response to you.  But try to take it easy meanwhile.  Medhelp is great.  Another good site is thebody.com  Look for the link to the HIV transmission and safe sex forum.  A lot of folks worry about HIV when they have no medical reason to do so (again, I was one).
Avatar universal
Thank you! I was also thinking that my GI problems were due to the high stress/anxiety I was under before and after my HIV test. I explained that to my GI specialist and he didn't think that was the cause of my symptoms so we're still working towards a diagnosis.

I really appreciate your feedback! I'll try to take it easy and enjoy life and my family like I should be doing.

Thanks again!

239123 tn?1267651214
To my knowledge, HIV-2 is not prevalent in Costa Rica.  In any case, it is even less easily transmitted than HIV-1, and your exposure was low risk anyway (since you pulled out quickly after the condom broke).  Further, your symptoms do not suggest HIV at all.  And yes, most people with symptomatic HIV infection would have at least subtle abnormalities in their routine blood counts.  Finally, roughly half the HIV testing in the US now includes HIV-2 routinely; if uncertain, contact the provider or lab where you were tested and ask them whether you were tested for HIV-2.  But even if not, I wouldn't worry about it.

Avatar universal
Hi Doctor, me again. I was reading on other forums regarding the different HIV tests and found out you can test for hiv 1 and 2. I am pretty positive (although not 100%) that I was tested for hiv 1. Something I left out from my original question was that my exposure was in Costa Rica (not sure what hiv virus lingers there). Do you recommend I get tested again for hiv 2 if I was tested for hiv 1 a month or 2 ago (result = non-responsive, does this mean negative?). After that exposure there hasn't been any other potential exposures. I'm freaking out because I've had so many problems in the last few months such as swollen nodes in armpit, behind ears and groin area. Unexplainable diarrhea that comes and goes lasting almost 1 week, mouth sores, headaches, tingling in my ears and arms, ear pain, loss of appetite, abdominal pain... I can come up with a million more symptoms. I really need your advice is I'm just overreacting or if I should be worried due to my symptoms. I have REALLY BAD PAIN on my left armpit... my wife felt around and said she felt pea sized bumps. Also, I've had other blood tests done in the past few months and my WB count is within normal limits, do patients with HIV normally show a low or high WB count?

Thanks again! I'll make sure another donation goes your way!

Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
These tips can help HIV-positive women live a long, healthy life.
Despite the drop in new infections, black women are still at a high risk for HIV, the virus that causes Aids.
What are your HIV treatment options, and how do you choose the right one? Our panel of experts weighs in.
Learn the truth behind 14 common misconceptions about HIV.
Can HIV be transmitted through this sexual activity? Dr. Jose Gonzalez-Garcia answers this commonly-asked question.
A breakthrough study discovers how to reduce risk of HIV transmission by 95 percent.