The summary of the matter here is that the normal HIV testing kits we have on ground now may not be able to detect HIV antibodies in patients who are currently on certain medications/herbs. These medications include the normal antiretroviral drugs we have to battle the disease.
Now the question most of you is asking is: “Is this possible?” Well, based on my personal experience (remember the patient with multiple negative HIV tests but positive p24 antigen and DNA PCR. I think I mentioned her case in the comment section or main body of my previous entry), I have to agree. Some doctors have done research on children and adolescents and found this to be possible also.
Apparently in some patients with long term superb viral suppression, there can be a gradual to total loss of antibodies which are specific for HIV. Thus the regular HIV antibody testing would keep reading negative.
NOTE: There have also been reports of patients with frank AIDS who repeatedly test negative for HIV until they get p24 antigen and viral load testing is done. One of the hypotheses is that the immune system of these unfortunate patients had been destroyed to the extent the production of antibodies against HIV was shut down. In both cases, they are still conducting researches to learn more about these phenomena.
So like Ikenna Blessing says, viral load testing is the way to go these days. BUT as it is at the moment, the test costs like $80 – $100 and not everyone can afford that, thus antibody tests are here to stay for now until viral load testing is made cheaper and readily available in most healthcare centers.
A positive angle to Ms. Blessing’s worry is that for such patients who persistently test negative, chances of them infecting their partners are far lower than in those with undetectable viral load but detectable antibodies. This is assuming that they are currently on antiretroviral therapy with undetectable viral load.
Feel free as always to sound off in the comment section
Written by Francis