20 Jan 2011

Health: I tested negative but I am positive – HOW?!?

Category: Health

Yes, it is possible to test negative for HIV but, in fact, be HIV-Positive and extremely infectious, putting your partners at high risk for HIV as well.

We hear “get tested” over and over again, often without more detail then that. So what exactly is “get tested” telling us to do and what does it mean when we do ‘get tested’?

Most HIV tests (such as the ELISA tests) given at testing centers in the U.S. will test for the HIV antibody. When you are exposed to HIV the virus will immediately begin to multiply in your body until HIV antibodies that can start to fight the virus are developed.

It can take between 2 to 8 weeks (the average being 25 days, the longest 6 months) for your body to produce enough HIV antibodies for them to show up on standard HIV antibody tests.

What this means is that you can be infected and test negative and not only be HIV-Positive but have the virus multiplying in your body at a very fast rate making you very infectious to others.

If you believe you have been exposed to HIV and have been tested with an antibody test, you should be retested again in 3 months. I suggest that you demand and RNA test if it is not offered and you feel you may have been exposed to HIV. An RNA HIV test detects the presence of the HIV virus itself. The time between HIV infection and RNA detection is 9-11 days.

As men that enjoy sex with men, there are other sexual health concerns that we must also pay close attention to. Among those health concerns are STDs, which can not only have long term consequences on your health, but they can also dramatically increase your risk for HIV.

Men who have sex with men accounted for 63% of syphilis cases in the US and are often diagnosed with other bacterial STDs, including chlamydia and gonorrhea infections and are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer, with a direct coloration between HPV and Anal Cancer.

What: Sexually active men should be vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B, tested for HIV, Syphilis, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea.

When:  The majority of gay men get tested for HIV annually, but based on the infection rates, it is apparent that annual testing is not enough. AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC), a leader in gay men’s health, along with many other qualified agencies, suggest that sexually active gay men with multiple or anonymous partners get tested for HIV and other STDs every three to six months.

Where: Most doctors will conduct a urine test or swab your penis but these tests will not detect all infections. If you have ever had oral sex you need a throat swab and to be checked for gonorrhea and chlamydia. If you have ever had receptive anal intercourse (bottomed) you should have an anal swab to test for these same infections. Rectal infections are very important to test for because you will most likely not have any symptoms of an STD when it is located in your rectum.

Anal pap smears may be helpful in detecting pre-cancerous lesions of the anus, but anal paps are not yet routinely provided to men by most clinics or doctors so you will need to ask, or even insist, on an anal pap smear if you are concerned about anal lesions and/or anal cancer.

Also a new vaccine has been approved for men to prevent HPV, the virus that causes genital warts and anal cancer.  This vaccine works best when given before a young man becomes sexually active, or has had very few partners and no evidence of HPV infection.

Use this testing location finder to find a testing location near you, or just text your zip code to “KnowIt” (566948).


14 comments for Health: I tested negative but I am positive – HOW?!?

  • i think old cliche’ works, “better safe than sorry”….

  • It always surprises me how many men who have sex with men do not know their HIV status be cause they have never been tested. Many assume their partners are negative so they themselves must be negative. With rapid test technology, it only takes up to twenty minutes to learn your status. And as stated in this blog, it is very possible to be infected within the last month to six months and still test negative. So get tested, then abstain or play it safe every time, and get tested again. Also remember that HIV is only one of the many STDs/STIs out there. A routine STD screening is also important.

  • Thats why we should all get tested every three months even if we use protection… My I copy and post?

  • Being HIV +, and sexually active with multiple partners I am glad to see your attention to the subject. Being a Registered Nurse, and being Poz for 23 years I am all for making all aspects of HIV open to frank topic discussions and this is a great forum for it. I find myself having to discuss frequently transmission and what is safe and what isn’t. Close to 30 years into the epidemic and there is still a majority lack of knowledge about transmission which promotes comfort levels with being “HIV friendly” for play or more in depth relationships. Too many choose to ignore/deny the issue.

  • Never heard of some of these tests. Great advice and information. I get tested annually for HIV and other STD’s by my doctor during my annual checkup. I think that’s better than anonymous clinics incase I test positive for anything. If you can find a doctor who understands your life style and knows you personally have your tests done there.

  • Wow…I had no idea you should get a throat and anal culture as well. I thought the tests the doctor ran was sufficient. Thanks for the informative blog!

  • Lot’s of great information to share. Thank you!

  • Thank you so much for the information you’ve shared concerning HIV infection and faulty test results. I’ve worked in the HIV field for over 15 years now and me being positive myself, I’ve found that our biggest down-fall in the HIV arena has always been the lack of good information. The HIV test in question is no different then any of the other test’s that’s used on the human body today. With that said all of them have a certian degree of failure. Two test maybe 6 months a part should always be your golden rule before starting any kind of treatment! I tested positive back in 1988 and before I took any kind of pill and or consented to treatment, I did my home-work, so simply do your homework!! You’ve only got one body, treat it well!!
    On another note if you’re HIV positive and have fallen out of treatment for what ever the reason, we want to hear from you!! “O.A.A. Alemeda County” Downtown Oakland 1000 Broadway #310. (510) 268-7630. No matter the reason, if you’ve stopped HIV treatment and now you wish to be re-connected back into care. Just know we’re here to help! Complaints concerning HIV services and or service provider’s we would like the chance to work things out so you’ll be able to get back to taking care of you. With-out you there’s no us!! Thank you and God bless.
    Rev. Daniel W. Bates “O.A.A. Out-Reach Intern” 2011.

  • Martine luis jarillo – feel free to copy and re-post – please link to the original article (this page)

  • I’d also point out that there are mail-order HIV tests. I had never been tested but wanted to before being sexually active again and found it to be pretty easy to use. I believe the company is HomeAccess and most online drugstores have them for about $30-50 depending on if its an overnight or standard shipping for the test. Having results in 24 hours is pretty good to avoid the stigma of asking for an HIV test and finding a clinic. I don’t understand why anyone would have unsafe sex. Even in the heat of the moment, a 10 minute detour to a 24 hour drugstore for some protection could save you endless years of drugs and a yet uncurable disease. Think about it guys!

  • Why are negmen so mean to pozguys? Do you not realize we have feelings and cope with alot? OH, I know, we’re all bad because you can get the nasty virus from us, which spoils all your fun. Every time I see “negub2” and “neg and plan to stay that way” it stabs me in the heart. Most of the time I feel like I should have died with the others…..

  • Hi the thought of me ever getting Hiv just scares the hell out of me. I am from California andI hate but to have toalways assume that everyone is positative. It sucks I think it shouldent be like this but that is what happens whenwe have a croupt government they are the only ones to blame.
    When I first moved to California I appracated in a research project that was being conducted by the CDC Iaggreed to the terms and conditions and at the end of the study project as I felt like I was a rat, they injected me with a fake immitation of the anti-body to see if it could work on me but at the end of the project they sent a letter out to allthe partespaints that the only way to see f its truely effective is to be with someone thats already infected and have unprotected sex with them. I was stunded and I have never had a std or anything even close but.its just not something that I want.

  • I understand the fear of getting an HIV, or any test, but the important thing to realize is that putting your head in the sand and wish all is well. AIDS is still here, and it’s something you just don’t want. Many people who are challenged by the disease will tell you it’s not all a bed of roses. Have a serious conversation with the Men you have sex with, it’s worth it in the long run. Also treat people with HIV/AIDS like normal human beings, we all need that kindness.

  • I was in the hospital to get a skin cancer growth removed When I found out I was Poz. I was in denial because it had been at least 3 months since I had been active and I thought I was being tested routinely when I got blood work done for other medical issues as there was always an HIV test box on the blood test forms. I presumed that no news was good news. Found out (after I became Poz) that it was only giving them authorization to run the HIV test but it didnt mean they were running one (and as it turned out they hadn’t been). I was told that if they do run the test they are required to let you know the results so the no-news-is-good-news was a false notion.

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