If you’ve been tested for HIV, you have probably heard that the test isn’t always reliable. However, there are many reasons why an HIV test may be wrong. In this article we will look at what causes a false negative or false positive result and how to get around these issues when planning your own treatment.
A false negative PCR test result occurs when the test detects that the virus is present, but it has not yet multiplied enough to be detected. This can happen for a few reasons:
It represents a threshold level at which there are enough copies of the target DNA to be detected and measured by your test.
When you receive your PCR results, you’ll see two numbers listed under “Ct”: one for each strand (each side) of the viral genome. The lower number is called the “lower-limit Ct,” and represents the minimum copy number required for detection of that particular strain. The higher number is called the “upper-limit Ct,” and represents the maximum copy number that can be detected with certainty by this specific test method. If either upper or lower limit values have been exceeded then this indicates that there are no copies present in your sample at all – it may be free from contamination, but also lacking any detectable viral material!
The Ct value is a measure of how much virus is present in a sample. A low Ct value indicates that there's not much virus, whereas a high Ct value indicates that there's plenty of it.
This is why the viral load test uses Ct values to determine whether an infection is active or not: if your viral load (the amount of HIV in your blood) is high, then it means that your body has been fighting off an infection for some time and therefore hasn't had an opportunity to make antibody responses yet; conversely, if your viral load is low and stays consistently so over time without ever rising significantly again, then it indicates no signs of active disease—or at least none that we can currently detect.
PCR tests detect viral genetic material, not infectious virus. Viral DNA is detectable in some people at all stages of infection, even when the immune system is able to control and clear the virus. Low levels of viremia (<100 RNA copies/mL) may be present for months after acute infection and can occasionally be detected for years after infection.
Low levels of viremia are more common than high levels (more than 1000 RNA copies/mL) during chronic infection, which can last for many years or a lifetime with successful treatment or management. Therefore, PCR results from swabs should always be interpreted with caution as they may represent low-level persistent infections rather than an acute incident that has been detected by testing.
Cycle threshold values (Ct values) are used by laboratory technicians to help determine whether a sample has enough viral DNA present to be considered positive—therefore these values need careful consideration if you have had a recent exposure but tested negative on your initial test result
In order to get (cheating) positive with a PCR test, you must be willing to put in the work. You need to find out what your partner is up to and why they are doing it. You must also be able to accept the consequences of your actions and deal with them in an appropriate manner.
For example, if you find out that your partner has been cheating on you for years because they were bored and wanted an adventure, then perhaps that's something you can work through together and come up with some sort of solution for moving forward as a couple. However if they were just bored and wanted an adventure without telling anyone about it until now...well...that could be harder (and maybe impossible).
If you’re in a relationship with someone who has Covid-19, be prepared to spend more time on this task than if you were single. If you have children, it may be even more important for you to avoid people who might infect them.
You may also need to spend more money depending on where you live: in some communities, there are laws requiring all citizens over the age of eighteen to wear masks 24/7 while out in public; if they don't follow these regulations (or if they aren't enforced), residents run the risk of being fined or jailed pending medical treatment for their bite wounds before re-entry into society is permitted again after quarantine period ends.*
If you're going to someone else's house, make sure you don't forget to take your own toilet paper. Or maybe even disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer.
You never know how clean their bathroom is, and if they have an "unexpected guest" (read: a cheating spouse) who wants to stay over with them, they may not want to be caught unprepared. If this happens and the hotel doesn't provide enough toilet paper for everyone staying there that night, then guess who gets stuck without any?
Don't worry about the virus, worry about the anxiety and depression that can come from quarantine.
Quarantine is a form of isolation used to separate infected people from others who are not infected. It’s a common part of epidemics, where people with a contagious disease are prevented from interacting with others until their symptoms pass or they can be treated for it. In most cases, quarantine is only necessary for those who have been exposed but do not yet show any symptoms themselves—they are considered “carriers” of the disease and therefore pose an ongoing risk to society during this time period.
When undergoing a PCR test for STIs, it’s important to follow the recommended guidelines and precautions. These include:
We hope this article has helped you understand more about how PCR tests work and hopefully demystified some of the common misconceptions around them. We know that these tests can be a little confusing at first, but once you get used to them they’re actually pretty easy! Remember that if you ever have any questions about whether or not your test is positive or negative then always contact us or talk to your doctor first before making any decisions on your own - we're here for support.