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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » EXPERT ADVICE » Ask Scarleteen » HIV testing

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Author Topic: HIV testing
dorey56
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How accurate is rapid HIV finger prick testing? I've read it can give false positives. How common are those? And what factors cause the false positives? I read some immunizations like tetanus, influenza and hepatitis can cause false positives. Is this true? And if it is, is it time specific after those that you can get a false positive or is it that you can get a false positive if you've ever had those immunizations in your life? Thanks.
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Karybu
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No medical test is perfect, including a rapid HIV test - so there is a small chance of a false positive. However, the tests are over 99% accurate and results are confirmed with a traditional test.

As for potential causes of false positives, that's something best asked of a doctor.

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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dorey56
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Oh okay so false positives are rare with rapid testing? Also is planned parenthood an okay place to get the finger prick done? Or should you go through your doctor? I'm really not trying to put down any organizations especially that one because they do amazing things, but it's not possible for an old needle to be used for another persons HIV test right? Thanks again.
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Karybu
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The chance of a false positive with rapid testing is very small.

No clinic would re-use needles for anything. Planned Parenthood is just fine to go to for testing, but if you're more comfortable going through your usual doctor, that's fine too.

[ 08-12-2012, 08:29 PM: Message edited by: Karybu ]

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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dorey56
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Okay thank you. I'm really sorry I don't want to offend anyone I was just curious. And planned parenthood seems like it would be much easier to get to and get a result and go but I just wanted to be sure they're as reliable as my regular doctor? Thank you.
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Karybu
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Yes, Planned Parenthood is just as reliable as your doctor. It's really about what you're most comfortable with. And you haven't offended anyone, no worries. [Smile]

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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dorey56
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Oh okay thanks for the reassurance, I appreciate it a lot!
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Karybu
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You're very welcome.

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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

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dorey56
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Got the test done and was told it was negative. Great news! However I'm curious about a few things before I get too excited. First, they say it takes 10 to 20 minutes for a rapid result to come in and I hate to be nit picky but the nurse read my results at just under 10 minutes (maybe 9.5 min). Is my negative result still accurate? I don't even know how the yet works so I dont know how to understand it. Second, they used a multi use lancet at planned parenthood (it looks like a pen kind of) and they attached something to the end of this pen object before sticking my finger. Can I be completely and 100% sure this was not a used needle to prick? Like are those designed so that it's impossible to use the pricks more than once? And finally, this being my annual testing, I wanted to be sure I don't need to retest again at 3 or 6 months past that incident I had with licking dried blood? (I believe you all concluded to me that that was not a risk but I want to be sure because it's only been 2 months since that happened) thanks!!!
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Heather
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No health center which wants to stay in operation, with staff who want to keep their licenses to have jobs are going to be using used needles for anything. Seriously. That is not something you have to worry about at licensed health centers, which all PPs are.

Per when you results showed up: the test showed a result when the test processed. In other words, if it was too soon for there to be a result, your clinician wouldn't have had a result to read.

As we've said many times before, we really don't think you had any HIV risk in the first place since it seemed most likely you licked your own blood. That said, unless you have *earnest* HIV risks in the next 3-6 months, then no, there is no reason to retest.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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dorey56
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Thank you so much for your answer. I guess pertaining to whether or not the result was read too soon, maybe I just don't understand how the test works. It is a unified rapid finger prick test. From research on the unfold website I've done, it almost looks similar to how a pregnancy test would work; it has a control line and a test line will develop if HIV antibodies are detected. So if it was read too early, wouldn't it just be a control line anyways and a test line could develop later? Sorry I'm not trying to push it, I just want to understand. And thank you for reassuring me I didn't have a risk in that dry blood situation. And I know no licensed health clinic would do so intentionally, but I know accidents can happen so I was wondering if it's physically possible for one of the pricks to be reused? I've heard with some lancets you literally wouldn't be able to use a prick twice because the way it's designed makes it so that it can literally only work to prick a finger once, and trying to reuse it would've even work.
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Heather
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Not knowing exactly what test they used, speficially -- per a brand, its directions, and what it looks like, I couldn't say.

As is often the case when you have had questions like this, the right person to ask isn't going to be us, but the individual or clinic who administered the test. When you're wondering this as the time, you ask. If you only think about it later, you call back.

You clearly want specifics, so to get them, you're going to need to ask the person or clinic who tested you.

The same goes with what kind of lancet they used: you're asking us for specific information we cannot possibly know, and which also is something that's sound to ask the folks doing your healthcare. Who, by the way, whether you pay cash or with insurance or public health, you also pay for exactly these kinds of services, including information about the care they're providing.

So. They're going to be the right person for you to ask since only they can have the kind of info about their tests you are asking for, but I also think it's very sound at this point for us to please ask you to lean more on them than us for this kind of information, and not just because they have it and we don't, okay?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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dorey56
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I see. I will call them. Sorry to bother I just wanted to know and at the time I did ask, but she told me it just had to be within ten to twenty minutes. And the only info I can give is it was the unigold rapid finger prick test. After you all gave me advice on pregnancy tests I went to that manufacturer about it and continued to do so but because you've said you worked in planned parenthood clinics, I thought I'd ask you. If you still have no new answers for me I will just call them tomorrow. Sorry again, but I don't believe I'm crossing any line.
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Heather
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I've worked in clinical settings but a) not as a clinician, b) not at Planned Parenthood. However, even if I had, there are thousands of PP clinics, and they won't all have the same policies or use the same tests.

So, again, your clinic is the right place to ask, for a host of reasons, mostly because only the clinic or person who administered your tests is going to have the answers you're looking for. And unless they deny you that information, your access to it is not only paid for (and they're paid for it), it's information you can get just as easily -- and certainly far more accurately and soundly, given what you're asking -- than here. We're simply not meant to, and can't, especially in situations like this and some of the other things you have asked about, substitute for many of the services healthcare providers can give you.

I'm going to close this thread now, because truly, we can't soundly answer what you want to know, and we need to put a clear limit on this. Thanks.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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