Q. Is HIV RNA test result taken within 10 days of exposure reliable?

Answered by
Dr. Atishay Bukharia
and medically reviewed by Dr. Vinodhini. J
This is a premium question & answer published on Jan 14, 2021

Hello doctor,

I have OCD and health anxiety. The last two months have been the most challenging months of my life. I think I have ALS and crippling anxiety. I have all kinds of symptoms where I feel twitching and cramping. My EMG was fine.

I had unprotected sex with a girl. The next day I had a CBC done where it showed my WBC was 3.6. Immediately I thought, what if the girl gave me HIV and my anxiety spiked. I had my WBC checked again within a week, and it was 4.4. In the next ten days, it was 4.9, and again after three days, it was 3.6.

I had a tender lymph node in my armpit (very small). I got in the other armpit (tender) also within three days. Both have gone within a week. Also, I had diarrhea once. I had a small patch of oral thrush on my gum that I wiped away hard with a towel. But this was not on my tongue or cheeks, it is only on the gum, and it never reappeared.

The girl and I took a fourth-generation antigen-antibody test. However, I am aware of the window periods. Soon after that, I developed pain in my left rib cage (spleen)? My antibody test comes back negative (no antigen). For some reason, the doctor put me on PEP (25 days after intercourse). Ten days after being on PEP, I took an HIV RNA viral load test that came back not detected. I also had an antigen-antibody test that was non-reactive. I noticed a tiny lymph node in my armpit that disappeared within two days.

I noticed that my right parotid gland is slightly bigger than the left without pain and visible difference. But when I started stressing about it, I felt a tiny non-tender lymph node about the size of a small pebble pop up. Besides the symptoms I listed, I have not had any others. No fevers, aches, rashes, and no other lymph nodes.

Is my RNA HIV test conclusive as negative? Or could ten days of PEP antiviral of brought me to an undetectable level? Generally, how long does it take someone to become undetectable? Could you tell me a little bit about HIV?



Welcome to icliniq.com.

Your RNA test is not conclusive. Ten days is too short of saying anything. I do not know why your doctor has put you on post-exposure prophylaxis after many days of exposure. Still, following post exposure prophylaxis, six months of testing is required to consider it as conclusive. As it can delay the viral replication, so none of the tests is conclusive.

You need to repeat the test after three and six months of exposure to get a confirmed result.

I hope it helps.

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