Q. Could a false negative HIV result due to hook effect?

Answered by
Dr. Utkarsh Sharma
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Jan 11, 2021 and last reviewed on: Feb 10, 2021

Hi doctor,

I had sexual exposure before a year. Yesterday, I took an HIV ELISA test and the report was negative. Can the result be false negative due to the hook effect? I heard that in ELISA, the plates are washed by a diluted buffer after every step. Does washing plates using a diluted buffer in ELISA after every step prevent the hook effect?

#

Hi,

Welcome to icliniq.com.

I can understand your concern. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test will detect antibodies against HIV. One year duration is more than sufficient for the development of antibodies. The sensitivity of the test is more than ninety-nine percent accurate and do not worry. Hook effect or prozone phenomenon is extremely rare and good laboratory measures are performed to prevent it. So, the negative result needs to be accepted without concern.

But if you are obsessed, then you can undergo an HIV DUO test. This helps to detect anti-HIV 1 and anti-HIV 2 total immunoglobulins and HIV 1 p24 antigen. The advantage of the p24 antigen test is that it helps to detect HIV infection earlier when compared to other tests. This HIV DUO test and p24 antigen test, is considered ninety-eight percent accurate at twenty-eight days. This accuracy increases to ninety-nine percent at ninety days after the potential contact. Take care and practice safer sex in the future.


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