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Can a cold virus cause a false positive for RNA HIV test?

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HIV AIDS Specialist
Practicing since : 1974
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Can a cold virus, or any virus for that matter, cause a false positive for an RNA HIV test? I haven't taken the test yet, but I plan on taking it today. Should I continue with the test as scheduled? Or should I wait until the potential virus runs its course?
Posted Mon, 10 Mar 2014 in HIV and AIDS
Answered by Dr. S. Murugan 9 hours later
Brief Answer: A rare possibility of false possitivity is there. Detailed Answer: Hi, Welcome to HCM. Thanks for posting your query. Concomitant Cold virus or other viral infections can cause a false a false positive RNA PCR in the absence of HIV infection, but very very rare, less than 1%. It is better for you go for this test a week after the complete cessation of cold infection. Dr S.Murugan
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Can a cold virus cause a false positive for RNA HIV test? 3 hours later
Thank you for your response doctor, I have already taken the test however. I am scheduled to take a 4th generation antigen test tomorrow, could that also be affected by the virus? Or does that test detect something else? Thank you
Answered by Dr. S. Murugan 1 hour later
Brief Answer: 4th generation test after 12 weeks conclusive Detailed Answer: Hi, Welcome back. Once again I ascertain that the chances for false positive results in presence of any viral infections with HIV RNA PCR test is very very rare. In my experience with RNA and DNA PCR results in HIV diagnosing, I am yet to come across such an incident. These tests are highly reliable and specific. Regarding the fourth generation combo/duo test (both antigen/antibody detection test), if done 12 weeks after the high risk sexual activity it is almost 100% reliable as it detects both antigen and antibody (HIV 1&2) simultaneously and if it is done earlier, then once again as an isolated antigen detection test it can show a remote chance of false positivity. HIV 2 infection which is also very rare other than in Africa likely to be missed as most of the antigen test (RNA PCR) detects only HIV 1 alone. Dr S.Murugan
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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