How reliable is the tri-dot test?

Q. Is tri-dot test reliable for detecting HIV?

Answered by
Dr. Goswami Parth Rajendragiri
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Dec 11, 2017 and last reviewed on: Jun 14, 2023

Hi doctor,

I was suffering from extreme fatigue last month, so I got a Widal test, which was positive. I have had typhoid many times earlier, and two years back I got hepatitis. Last month I got LFT and CBC tests, and I am attaching the reports. LFT was normal, while CBC shows lymphopenia and macrocytosis, I showed these reports to another doctor, and he told me to get tested for HIV polymerase chain reaction test. I had sexual intercourse five months back, and I did the tri-dot test three times, but they came back negative. But, the doctor told me that tri-dot test is not reliable, so I should get a PCR test. Please help me, I am so tensed. I have a bacterial infection and itching on my back, which is not fading away.



Welcome to

I had seen the reports that you have attached (attachment removed to protect patient identity).

  1. In your CBC (complete blood count) reports, neutrophils are very high and lymphocytes count is low, which is suggestive of some acute infection in the body. Here, as the lymphocytes are low, HIV should be ruled out first.
  2. Tri-dot test detects both HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) p24 antigen and antibody and is equally effective as compared to HIV fourth-generation ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) testing. Usually, these tests are positive within two to six weeks after getting infected. If you will get tested with NAT (nucleic acid test) or western blot test, then it can detect HIV much earlier. But, it is a costly test.
  3. So, if you have any positive suspicious history of HIV, then after six to eight weeks ELISA fourth-generation testing or tri-dot rapid testing can be done.
  4. For bacterial infection, a blood culture can be done and accordingly, suitable antibiotics can be given. Do not worry about bacterial infection, it is treatable.
  5. For typhoid, a stool culture can be done to choose the proper antibiotic.

Keeping my answer in mind, consult a nearby infectious disease specialist or physician for examination and treatment accordingly.

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