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HIV and AIDS

Do I Have A Rare Subtype Of HIV?

02/12/2004

Question:

4 years ago I had a serious exposure with a girl. Several days later I suffered from fever, sore throat, nausea and vomitting, lasting for several days. One year later I had severe Shingles which left residual scars on my body. 2 years later I had a skin rash on my left arm which was painful and itching, treated by Fucidic Acid, and lasted for a whole week. Now I am suffering from non-itching persistant Folliculitis, which improves well with Fucidic Acid, but comes back again once I stop the treatment!

Since I have tested for HIV antibodies 2 times, one time 1 year after the exposure, and the other time 4 years after the exposure, and both tests came negative, here comes my question: is it really possible that ALL these suspicious symptoms are incidental? Or is it the test that is unreliable? I am afraid that I have got a rare subtype of the virus! Please tell me if there is some test that can include ALL the subtypes of HIV.

The result was printed as : HIV1_2_gO 0.27 S/CO Negative). I have heard about a new subtype called subtype N! My friends suggested doing a Western Blot test, Antigen test, or even PCR in order to make sure. Do these tests really able to detect rare subtypes of HIV? Thank you.

Answer:

I cannot comment on your personal medical situation. A general comment on HIV screening tests. Different HIV screening tests may look for different subtypes of the virus. Depending upon which test is used will depend upon whether unusual or rare subtypes are detected. Many screening tests are based upon the common subtype(s) in the geographic area where the testing is done. For those unusual or difficult to identify subtypes, additional testing may be helpful. Both polymerase chain testing and confirmatory HIV testing may have value in identifying unusual or rare types that may not be as easily identified by routine screening tests. 

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Response by:

Stephen   Kralovic, MD Stephen Kralovic, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati