Anonymous asked in HealthDiseases & ConditionsSTDs · 1 decade ago


4 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer


    Is the "AIDS Test" Accurate?

    Many people are surprised to learn that there is no such thing as a test for AIDS. The tests popularly referred to as "AIDS tests" do not identify or diagnose AIDS and cannot detect HIV, the virus claimed to cause AIDS. The ELISA and Western Blot tests commonly used to diagnose HIV infection detect only interactions between proteins and antibodies thought to be specific for HIV -- they do not detect HIV itself. And contrary to popular belief, newer "viral load" tests do not measure levels of actual virus in the blood.

    All HIV antibody tests are highly inaccurate. One reason for the tests' tremendous inaccuracy is that a variety of viruses, bacteria and other antigens can cause the immune system to make antibodies that also react with HIV. When the antibodies produced in response to these other infections and antigens react with HIV proteins, a positive result is registered. Many antibodies found in normal, healthy, HIV-free people can cause a positive reading on HIV antibody tests. (23) Since the antibody production generated by a number of common viral infections can continue for years after the immune system has defeated a virus -- and even for an entire lifetime -- people never exposed to HIV can have consistent false positive reactions on HIV tests for years or for their entire lives.

    The accuracy of an antibody test can be established only by verifying that positive results are found in people who actually have the virus. This standard for determining accuracy was not met in 1984 when the HIV antibody test was first created. Instead, to this day, positive ELISAs are verified by a second antibody test of unknown accuracy, the HIV Western Blot. Since the accuracy for HIV antibody tests has never been properly established, it is not possible to claim that a positive test indicates a current, active HIV infection or even to know what it may indicate. (24) In one study that investigated positive results confirmed by Western Blot, 80 people with two positive ELISAs that were "verified" by a positive Western Blot tested negative on their next Western Blot. (25)

    Antibodies produced in response to simple infections like a cold or the flu can cause a positive reaction on an HIV antibody test. A flu shot and other immunizations can also create positive HIV ELISA and Western Blot results. Having or having had herpes or hepatitis may produce a positive test, as can vaccination for hepatitis B. Exposure to microbes such as those that cause tuberculosis and malaria commonly cause false positive results, as do the presence of tapeworms and other parasites. Conditions such as alcoholism or liver disease and blood that is altered through drug use may elicit the production of antibodies that react on HIV antibody tests. Pregnancy and prior pregnancy can also cause a positive response. The antibodies produced to act against infection with mycobacterium and yeast, infections which are found in 90% of AIDS patients, cause false positive HIV test results. (26) In one study, 13% of Amazonian Indians who do not have AIDS and who have no contact with people outside their own tribe tested HIV positive. (26) In another report, 50% of blood samples from healthy dogs reacted positively on HIV antibody tests. (27)

    Prior to the notion that HIV causes AIDS, viral antibodies were considered a normal, healthy response to infection and an indication of immunity. Antibodies alone were not used to diagnose disease or predict illness. Before HIV, only ELISA and Western Blot tests that had been shown to correspond with the finding of actual virus were used to diagnose viral infections. There is no credible scientific evidence to suggest that these rules should be disregarded to accommodate HIV.

    In addition to being inaccurate, HIV antibody tests are not standardized. This means that there is no nationally or internationally accepted criteria for what constitutes a positive result. Standards also vary from lab to lab within the same country or state, and can even differ from day to day at the same lab. (28) As HIV test kit manufacturers acknowledge, "At present there is no recognized standard for establishing the presence or absence of antibodies to HIV-1 and HIV-2 in human blood." (29)

    The following chart illustrates just some of the varying criteria for what is considered a positive HIV Western Blot, and shows how someone could actually switch from positive to negative simply by changing countries. The differing standards for positive HIV tests are not limited to the locations and agencies mentioned here -- criteria vary from lab to lab and results are open to interpretation. An inconclusive test can become positive or negative based on an individual's sexual preference, health history, zip code or other survey data.

    The various proteins used in HIV Western Blot tests are arranged into bands that are divided into three sections. These three sections are represented by the abbreviations ENV, POL and GAG. Proteins in the ENV section correspond to the outer membrane or "envelope" of a virus; POL refers to proteins common to all retroviruses which include polymerase and other enzymes; GAG stands for "group specific antigen" and includes proteins that form the inner core of a virus. The protein bands in each section are indicated by the letter "p" and are followed by a number which describes the molecular weight of that protein measured in daltons. For example, p160 is an ENV protein that weighs 160 daltons.

    It is important to note that none of the proteins used in HIV antibody tests are particular to HIV, and none of the antigens said to be specific to HIV are found only in persons who test HIV positive. In fact, many people diagnosed HIV positive do not have these "HIV antigens" in their blood.

    As mentioned previously, newer HIV "viral load" tests do not isolate or measure actual virus. The tests' manufacturers clearly state that viral load "is not intended to be used as a screening test for HIV or as a diagnostic test to confirm the presence of HIV infection." (31) In fact, viral load tests have not been approved by the FDA for diagnostic purposes and have not been verified by virus isolation. For more information on viral load tests, please see What's Up With Viral Load? on page 36. Of course, the most outstanding problem with any HIV test is that HIV has never been demonstrated to cause AIDS.

    Defined Terms

    Antigen: A substance that can trigger an immune response, resulting in the production of antibodies as part of the body's defense system against infection and disease. Many antigens are foreign proteins (those not found naturally in the body); they include microorganisms, toxins, and tissues from another person used in organ transplantation. Antigen stands for ANTIbody GENerating.

    False Positive: Indicates infection where none exists.

  • 1 decade ago

    HIV Antibody tests are by-far the most common test for HIV infection. The HIV Antibody test looks for HIV antibodies that are produced as a result of HIV infection. These tests are more than 99% accurate. In most states if you test positive for HIV Antibodies, you will undergo a confirmatory test that will confirm the presence of the actual HIV Virion. If the virus is detectable your viral load and CD4 cells will also be counted to determine the stage of HIV infection.

    Source(s): New York State Department of Health
  • ?
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    hi my call is amber, the reason all people is afraid to take HIV/AIDS assessments I have not any clue yet once you think of which you or somebody you recognize will or would desire to probably get the viruses you will desire to tell them to bypass and get examined. your friends would desire to continuously communicate with regard to the HIV/AIDS virus considering which you all would desire to understand with regard to the virus, have faith me my acquaintances had HIV and that they only had one better half of their existence. SO BE CAREFULL!!!!

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    My brother died of complications from HIV. Recently, I purchased a life insurance policy for myself. An in home nurse came to administer a test. She said it was a simple matter of placing a cotton swab in my mouth and collecting saliva. I asked her what the test was for and she said AIDS. I would recommend you be seen and tested at an AIDS clinic for this simple test. They respect your privacy, and you have peace of mind. Never assume.

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