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Avatar universal

Is this OCD or a real hiv risk?

I need some reassurance and advice on what to do next. I can't tell if this is OCD or a real hiv concern. I posted on the hiv prevention forum but nobody has answered. I am hoping this is just my OCD and that I can somehow move on. I just feel that if I had the correct HIV transmission information, this could help (if my fears are irrational). If this is a real risk then I don't know what I will do. Here is what happened:

I was experiencing really bad anxiety due to the fact that I had never had an HIV test done, so I took an oral swab test, Oraquick, which is FDA approved. One day, I  came across the ingredients somehow and noticed that "panel members" were listed as PART of the test stick device. (( Panel members are basically different containers with HIV+ plasma. They are used for quality control purposes, and this is how the manufacturers know that their tests are working and can give an accurate result. However, they ARE NOT supposed to be PART of the testing device.))  Needless to say this has caused INTENSE anxiety for me. I have spoken with the people from the manufacturer and even they seemed confused about the wording but kept trying to assure me it was wrong and that there were no panel members inside the test stick.

Of course this has caused me a lot of problems and in short, I am TERRIFIED that there was hiv+ plasma on the test that could have infected me. My questions are:

1. Could the virus survive inside an Oraquick test stick device due to it being in an enclosed space? Since panel members are liquid (hiv+ plasma), would the virus be able to infect if it dripped down to the pad RIGHT WHEN someone is using it to swab their gums?
2. Could the virus survive & be able to infect on an Oraquick test pad if it had been there for awhile?
3. If there is infectious fluid on the Oraquick test pad and it comes in contact with the upper and lower gums when swabbing, would this be considered a risk for infection? Is oral sex different from this? Worst case scenario, assuming the viruses in the test pad had a high viral load- what would be the risk?


Someone please, please educate me on why the virus would or wouldn't survive in those conditions. All I keep thinking about are how syringes are airtight and how the test stick device and the package was airtight as well.Thank you!
4 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi there.   I just read over the documentation for the OraQuick test kit on their website, and the only mention of the phrase "panel member" is in reference to the "panel" of test subjects who participated in the testing of the device before it was approved by the FDA.   According to what I read, the "panel members" were the people who they tested with the device - human beings.   Some were HIV positive and some negative.  They tested the device on both to see how accurate it is.  Why would they put HIV positive plasma inside the test stick to do quality control?   To test it, they would just dip the pad into liquid that had HIV in it and make sure it showed the correct results.   Putting plasma inside the test stick does not make any sense at all.   Where exactly did you get your information as to what a "panel member" is?

To answer your questions, no, there is no way you could become infected from an oral test kit.   Even if there were somehow live HIV virus in the test stick at the time of manufacture, it would be dead long before you ever got the test in your hands.   HIV is a fragile virus and does not survive for more than a few minutes outside of the human body.   The testing stick and the packaging is not "airtight" in the way a syringe is.   A syringe is designed to force liquid under pressure into the human body.   The test stick is not.  

Even if we were to take your story at face value and assume there was somehow liquid with HIV in it in the test stick, that it flowed down and got onto the pad and then onto your gums, it still would not result in an infection.  HIV needs to get into your bloodstream in a significant amount to have a chance at causing an infection.  

To give you some indication about how difficult it is to become infected by HIV, medical professionals who accidentally stick themselves with a bloody needle that has just been used on a known HIV-positive patient only become infected 0.3% of the time.  99.7% of the time, nothing happens.  Hospitals keep accurate records of these events and personnel must report them for liability reasons, so the data is solid.   Even if everything in your hypothesis were true (which it is not), the chances of becoming infected would be way, way lower than 0.3%.

Your anxiety is completely unfounded.   It really sounds as if your OCD is making an extreme reach to come up with a reason why you should be worried about HIV infection.   If something like this is causing you such extreme distress, you need to go see a therapist to get help getting your OCD under control.  Reassurance is only going to go so far - you may feel better for a short while, but it is just a matter of time before the "yeah but what if..." part of your brain comes up with some other reason to fear HIV infection, to doubt what I have just told you or to come up with something else equally distressing.
Avatar universal
And one other thing that occurred to me - if there was HIV positive plasma in the test stick, the test would have came out as positive.  It didn't, did it?

Seek treatment for your OCD - you will be glad you did.

Avatar universal
Thank you so much for your response! It helped a lot. Lately I feel that I only read things to fuel my anxiety. Here is the website where I read that there are panel members inside the test stick (read the nitrocellulose membrane part): http://www.oraquick.com/assets/base/oraquickfull/pdf/OraQuick_In-Home_HIV_Test_SDS.pdf

I found out what panel members are by researching them. They come in packages, in tubes filled with plasma. The majority of the plasma in the panel members is hiv+ with varying concentrations of hiv & with different hiv types. They also have hiv- plasma. They use these to control their tests and as you said, for quality control, they pretty much need to dip them in there? I believe?

I also do not know why they would need to place panel members inside the test stick, especially when they use synthetic peptides as antigens. I have spoken with them on the phone and they have told me that panel members are NOT part of the test stick device, but could not give me an answer as to WHY they are listed as part of it. So although it states that there is no live or active hiv in the test, I am wondering if there is "inactivated" hiv inside the test? I would feel very uncomfortable with any type of hiv in the test because you never know with human error if hiv is fully inactivated. There are some panel members with inactivaed hiv and they clearly state they can't claim the virus is 100% inactivated so to treat with caution. BUT, Oraquick is telling me there are NO panel members INSIDE the test stick. This has made me feel better but not fully because now I feel that the situation is confusing.

Onto my awful fear, you don't know how much I appreciate your reassurance but I do wonder how accurate it is. I want more than anything for you to be right. I do fear that somehow this virus from the panel members that are or aren't (so confusing) inside the test stick could have gotten down to the test pad right as I was swabbing my gums. I even have taken it as far as to fearing some evil person at the manufacturers could have purposely placed plasma on the test pad. Can you please further explain the whole hiv survival/airtight/enclosed space facts? What would make hiv not survive in this environment? I know that reassurance doesn't work with most but I feel that hearing scientific facts that tell me my fears are ocd helps me. Again, thank you so so much for your help. You made me able to take some calm breaths tonight!
Avatar universal
Also, are you sure the test would come as positive? As it would have been there for awhile? Would the antibodies still remain active and able to show up? Not sure! The guy from Oraquick said the tests would have been invalid and one of the tests I took actually had some of the red background not fully dissappear, but clearly had a line at the control line- which says it worked but Idk, the fact that the background didn't fully clear may have meant the test was invalid? Not sure. This is why I retested after this test. Ahh!
I'm not a doctor or an expert on detection of virus antibodies.   Neither are you.   You sound like a smart guy but you are trying to become an expert on virus antibody detection who knows more than the company who produces the tests.   I looked at the link you included and it says in plain English at the end of the section that says it contains 'panel members':  "NOTE: Pad only contains HIV 1 & 2 peptides, there is no active/live virus contained within the product as offered to the public."   NO ACTIVE/LIVE VIRUS.  Says it right there - end of story.  In the absence of active/live HIV, you cannot become infected.  Full stop.

You are obsessed about this and will not let it go.  You are trying to logically stop your OCD by searching for obscure information that will give you a 100% guarantee, but that is not going to work.  You are having irrational fears and no amount of logic will make them go away.  The fact that you admit that you are "fearing some evil person at the manufacturers could have purposely placed plasma on the test pad" tells me you need to see a professional therapist to get your OCD under control as it appears to be overwhelming you.  Your OCD is morphing into paranoia, which is a place you do not want to go.
My OCD does come with a good chunk of paranoia but this time my fears came from the manufacturers' website. I am shaken at reading that there could be any hiv inside the test kit, active or inactive. And yes, I have researched these tests enough to know that panel members should not be inside the test. I understand the science behind a rapid test because it is simple and pretty much the same for all tests. What I am trying to say is that even the company is telling me there are no panel members inside the test stick- yet their ingredient page claims there are. I want to reassure myself that I am not at risk, which is why I want to know why the virus would not survive in that type of environment.
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