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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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How reliable is the Aptima early detection HIV RNA PCR test?

Answered by
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Dr. S. Murugan

HIV AIDS Specialist

Practicing since :1974

Answered : 2742 Questions

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Posted on Mon, 11 Aug 2014 in HIV and AIDS
Question: How reliable is the Aptima early detection HIV RNA PCR test? I had a potential exposure over 2 weeks ago, and I took a blood test 11 days after a possible infection that came back "not detected". I was the insertive one in unprotected anal sex with a partner of unknown status. I haven't felt any symptoms at all, and I'm going to take an antibody test to confirm when possible. But I'm still very anxious.

Has an early detection test taken during the proper window period ever turned up a false negative? I've read false positives are possible but I haven't seen anything regarding a false negative. I'd like to think my odds are good but I keep convincing myself I'll be that first one to come back positive.
doctor
Answered by Dr. S. Murugan 6 hours later
Brief Answer:
Antibody test rules out both HIV 1&2.

Detailed Answer:
Hi,
Welcome to HCM.
Thanks for posting your query.

Even though the qualitative HIV RNA PCR can detect the HIV antigen as early as one week, it becomes more conclusive after 3-4 weeks. Moreover a negative HIV RNA PCR ruled out only the HIV 1 infection whereas the antibody detecting tests after 12 weeks can rule out both HIV 1&2 even though the HIV 1 infection is the commonest infection (99%). So as decided have an antibody test also and rule out both HIV 1&2 just to be on the more safer side. Stick to safe sex in future to avoid unnecessary mental tension.
Dr S.Murugan
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Follow up: Dr. S. Murugan 1 hour later
I planned on having the antibody test regardless of the results of the RNA. Should I feel confident that I'm going to be negative again based on the results of the test? And have you ever seen a negative RNA PCR test turn into a positive infection in the future?
doctor
Answered by Dr. S. Murugan 54 minutes later
Brief Answer:
HIV 1 negative,HIV 2 (remote) has to be ruled out.

Detailed Answer:
Hi,
Welcome back.

It is sure by the Negative RNA test, HIV 1 would not become positive when you are going to have the Antibody test in future. At the same time, a remote possibility of HIV 2 is yet to be ruled out only by the antibody test alone.
I came across such rare incidents not in my practice, but from reports from elsewhere. In my practice most of the time they came after 3 months. So I go with antibody tests only. Very rare instances to do DNA or RNA tests.
DR S.Murugan

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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