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HIV pcr quantitative test showed less than detection limit after unprotected oral sex. Any advice?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2009
Answered : 8985 Questions
I recieved an unprotected oral sex 38 days back. I was only the reciever and the incident happened for like 30 secs. I took a HIV PCR real time QUANTITATIVE TEST after 30 days and the result came as "less than detection limit". What does this mean? Can i take these results as confirmatory and move on in life. I am very confused. Pls advice. I dont have any hiv symptoms and also any cuts or sores in my penis.
Posted Sat, 30 Mar 2013 in HIV and AIDS
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan 13 minutes later
Hello and welcome to XXXXXXX

Thank you for writing to us.

A HIV PCR test is considered quite specific and sensitive. It is usually used for early detection of HIV. The test can be conducted 2-3 weeks after contact with a HIV-infected person. So, a duration of 30 days is quite sufficient.

"Less than detection limit" means that the test was 'negative' for HIV. This test is about 90-95 % reliable. But, for your complete satisfaction if you wish to get tested again, the only test you could go about after this duration (i.e after 4 weeks) is an antibody test.The best time for an antibody test is from 3-6 months after exposure. An antibody test is highly sensitive.

In my opinion you are safe and HIV free. So do not worry, and be more careful from next time onward.

Best wishes.
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Follow-up: HIV pcr quantitative test showed less than detection limit after unprotected oral sex. Any advice? 9 minutes later
Thank you so much for your reply doctor. Has hiv ever transmitted by this process? Does saliva transmit hiv? When should take the nest test? Should I keep taking test regularly for my entire life? Is there a possibility for the virus to be present below detection limit after 30 days ? Pls advice doctor , m confused.
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan 10 minutes later
Hello once again.

Yes, HIV can be transmitted through all bodily fluids. But in your case, only if the saliva of the HIV-infected person (if the person who gave you oral sex is diagnosed with HIV) comes in contact with an open wound (at times very small also) on your penis (which was protected by the condom).

There have been cases of oral sex by a HIV-infected person given directly to the penis (without condom) resulting in transmission of HIV (but never with condom).

The next test should be an antibody test, to be taken at 3 months from exposure and then again at 6 months. If both these tests report a negative result, then you need not get tested for HIV again, unless you practice unsafe sex again with a possible HIV-infected individual. But, for now, after the 3 and 6 month test, you need not re-test.

As mentioned in my first response, very rarely it is possible for the HIV-PCR test to report a false-negative report (i.e. 'below detection limit'), this is very rare. Which is why I am requesting you to get the antibody test done at the third and sixth month, after exposure. Negative results from these, will confirm that you are HIV free.

I hope this information helps. Do write back to me for any further clarifications, I would be happy to help, or you could rate my answers after closing this discussion.

Best wishes.
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Follow-up: HIV pcr quantitative test showed less than detection limit after unprotected oral sex. Any advice? 13 minutes later
What are the chances for me to be hiv free doctor? I am very scared. Pls provide me with a feedback.
Answered by Dr. Shoaib Khan 9 minutes later
In my opinion your chances are about 97% of being HIV free. This is more than enough for confirmation. But, I prefer not taking a chance which is why I suggested the antibody tests at 3 and 6 months.

Do not worry. I am sure you are HIV free.

Be safe and take care.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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