False Positive HIV Tests Are Common Among Pregnant Women


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I’m a 40-year-old mother of a two-year-old.  Just months in the past, I used to be agonizing over the choice of whether or not to have one other baby. As an older mother, I used to be shedding sleep over the anxiousness of being on the fence and my very own organic clock ticking loudly. Well, it seems that I had already been kicked off the fence and I didn’t even comprehend it.  So, right here I’m: 40 and pregnant with a shock baby. Never (NEVER!) did I anticipate this plot twist … however right here we’re and we’re so grateful.

Just days after revealing our massive information to the world, I encountered my second (and hopefully LAST) shock of this pregnancy. It was after 5pm on a Monday night and I used to be dashing to arrange for a digital college board assembly when my cellphone rang. Thinking it was odd to get a name from my OBGYN’s workplace after hours, I made a decision to reply.

“Do you have a minute?”

I may hear the priority within the nurse’s voice, so I knew this most likely wasn’t going to be a enjoyable dialog. Days earlier, I’d had a slew of early pregnancy lab work completed, together with the NIPT. I instantly started getting ready myself for what she would say. Was my blood sugar means off? Were my hormone ranges not proper? Is one thing incorrect with the baby?

Nothing may put together me for what got here subsequent.

“Your HIV test came back positive.”

I immediately felt the blood drain from my head. I should be listening to issues. She should be calling the incorrect person. I didn’t even know that my lab work included an HIV take a look at…how may it’s constructive?

The remainder of that dialog is a blur. I keep in mind the nurse attempting to be reassuring. “…false positives happen…especially in pregnant women…I’ve seen this two other times…”

As I attempted to take heed to the nurse, I felt panic wash over me. I’m a baby of the 80s. I watched the tales of Ryan White and Magic Johnson unfold as a younger lady. The outcomes have improved through the years, however HIV remains to be tremendous scary to me and the candy nurse’s makes an attempt to calm me down fell flat.

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If this wasn’t a mistake, this could be a life-altering analysis for me…and for my total household.

With directions to go the subsequent day for added RNA nucleic acid testing, I hung up the cellphone and burst into tears. When my husband asked me what was incorrect, I couldn’t even say the phrases as a result of which may make it actual. After taking a couple of moments to collect myself, I used to be lastly capable of clarify what the nurse mentioned. And, in fact, he did and mentioned all the fitting issues. “…I’m sure it’s a mistake…we’ll get through this together…don’t worry, sweetie…”

Later that night, my husband and I started scouring the Internet for data and, fortunately, it was reassuring. False constructive HIV assessments DO occur, notably for pregnant women who’ve been pregnant earlier than.

So, if you’re a pregnant lady who’s studying this since you acquired a constructive HIV take a look at and also you’re determined for solutions, right here is a few data that you just would possibly discover reassuring.

First, it’s price noting that routine HIV screening usually consists of two assessments. The first take a look at is one which particularly assessments for HIV1/HIV2 antibodies. My outcomes for that take a look at got here again unfavorable.

The second take a look at that got here again “positive” is known as a fourth technology HIV take a look at. This take a look at is searching for each HIV antibodies AND p24 antigens, which seem even earlier than the immune system begins producing HIV antibodies. The upside? This take a look at helps individuals determine the virus within the window of time between transmission and detectable HIV antibody improvement. The draw back? It is falsely constructive about 4 out of 1,000 times. And since pregnant women are a “low-risk” inhabitants who’re additionally frequently examined (twice throughout pregnancy in Texas), there’s an elevated probability {that a} false constructive consequence will occur to a pregnant lady. Furthermore, women who’ve been pregnant earlier than produce an antibody that’s believed to extend the likelihood of a false positive result.

As I digested the analysis I discovered, my anxiousness started to subside. Multiple research mentioned the identical factor: a unfavorable HIV antibody take a look at and a “reactive” or “positive” fourth technology take a look at in a low-risk person have a high probability of being a false constructive consequence.

I used to be examined for HIV twice simply two years earlier once I was pregnant with my son — each outcomes have been unfavorable. My husband and I are in a dedicated, monogamous, glad relationship, so I really couldn’t see how it could even be potential that both of us may contract something. And, after scouring the Internet for hours, my analysis happy me that probabilities have been high that this was a false constructive consequence.

So, I made a decision to not panic … I made a decision to attend. Instead of the 2-3 days prompt, my comply with up RNA nucleic acid take a look at outcomes took a full week. And it was an extended, emotionally taxing week.

I attempted to hold on like the whole lot was regular whereas I waited. I couldn’t cease my thoughts from considering by the “what ifs”, although. Even in my certainty, I needed to think about the chance that these outcomes weren’t false. My larger concern was this: what in regards to the women with false constructive HIV take a look at outcomes who aren’t so sure that their outcomes are false? This total scenario induced an incredible quantity of emotional misery, particularly within the early phases of pregnancy, however I can’t even think about what that stress can be like for many who aren’t in utterly secure and trusting conditions.  It made me want that I had been higher knowledgeable in regards to the take a look at and the potential for a false unfavorable (irrespective of how minuscule the possibility) earlier than I used to be within the throes of a panic assault.

Luckily, I managed to maintain my stress stage low as I waited. One week later, I acquired the information I had hoped for and anticipated – my first HIV take a look at was falsely constructive. Obviously, that affirmation was an incredible reduction.

Without a doubt, this complete scenario has given me a renewed appreciation for my secure, loving marriage, and my superb husband. Above all, although, this expertise made me notice that tales like mine, nonetheless uncomfortable or traumatic, must be shared for different mothers on this identical boat.

While that is an inexact calculation as a result of it doesn’t account for a number of births, miscarriages, or stillbirths, there are roughly 3.8 million births per 12 months within the United States. If every pregnant mom was solely examined as soon as (and plenty of are examined greater than as soon as), there can be roughly 15,200 false constructive fourth technology HIV assessments per 12 months within the United States. That’s a fairly large boat!  And, should you’re studying this since you’re in that boat, I hope that my story and this data assist deliver you some perspective and peace of thoughts.

Oh, sure!

While it was barely overshadowed by all the HIV testing and outcomes, I additionally acquired the lab outcomes of my NIPT take a look at – we’re fortunately anticipating one other baby boy.

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