Friday, August 5, 2011

My Crazy, Kinda-Scary-but-Funny, HIV Test Ordeal

Well, the title sums it up pretty well! If you've ever been pregnant before, you probably know that one of the things your Dr.'s office checks for in the initial blood draw they take, is HIV. If you didn't know that before - you do now. :)

Warning - this post is going to be pretty long. I guess I just have a lot to say! But I can tell you that it's an interesting story, to say the least! And if you're ever one of the unlucky percentage of pregnant women who this happens to, then maybe my story will help you to not freak out like I did!

When I was pregnant with Monster, they did the test, and my blood came back HIV negative. No surprise there. I have zero risk factors for contracting HIV. Ben & I were each other's first sexual partners - and we are still each other's only sexual partner. I've also never done any drugs, so the only needles injected into my skin should have been sterile hospital needles used to draw my blood or give me vaccinations. I've never had a blood transfusion. And I cannot recall ever having been stabbed by a needle from a random stranger.

So fast forward to my first OB appt for this pregnancy. About two weeks after my appt, I get a voicemail from a nurse at my OB's office, asking me to call her ASAP. I didn't think anything of it - until I called. Dr. H wants me to come in to meet with her tomorrow to go over some test results. Tomorrow?! I have another routine OB appt in 2 weeks... what could be so important that I have to come in right away? What does she have to meet with me about that can't be said over the phone?! I of course start going over all the things they tested for in my head:
  1. Pee test to confirm pregnancy. What if I'm not actually pregnant? That would suck. But with all my symptoms I doubted it could be that.
  2. My Rh factor. I know I'm RH+, so it's not that
  3. Drug screening. I know I don't take any drugs, so it's not that
  4. HIV and other STD's. I know I'm HIV negative, and don't have any STD's, so it's not that.
  5. Cystic Fibrosis. When I was pregnant with Monster, I was not a carrier for CF. So that couldn't change now, right?
  6. I think there was another disease they tested for too... but it usually only affected people of Jewish decent, which I'm not. So it was likely not that.
I was at a loss as to just what my Dr. could have to talk to me about... but worried about it, nonetheless.
So finally, the next day rolls around, and I'm scheduled to meet wtih Dr. H after work. I get in the room, Dr. H comes in, sits down in front of me, and takes a deep breath. She tells me not to freak out about what she's about to tell me (and of course I'm getting more freaked out by the minute!). She goes on to explain that sometimes lab work has errors, and she really thinks that what happened is that mine had a error - so not to freak out. Yada, yada, yada. I'm getting ready to just scream at her to tell me because I can't stand the not knowing... and then she says it. "Your blood test came back HIV positive." - Wait, what?!? "But I really think it's just a lab error. You were HIV negative when you had Monster (just 11 months prior) so in the past year, have you travelled to a foreign country?" No. "Had a blood transfusion?" Nope. "Been poked by an unkown needle?" Um... No. "Taken any drugs?" No way.

She tells me that she was surprised when the results came in, so she called up the place that did the testing, and asked for further testing. The further testing came back 'Indeterminate' - how helpful! Not. She was told by the lab guy that their test looks for 9 markers in the blood. My blood had 1 of those 9 markers. Typically, patients that really do have HIV have at least 8 of the 9 markers. But, I had that 1. So it was 'indeterminate'.

So I'm told the standard protocol is to re-test my blood in 3 months, in case it was a lab error. So I schedule my lab date for 3 months down the road, and go home with some AWESOME news to tell Ben. (can you sense my sarcasm?) Good news is, Ben was still as sure as I was that I'm really HIV negative, since there would have been no way for me to contract HIV in the past 11 months. So we just have to wait the 3 months until the blood can be re-tested and all of this can be solved.

Fast forward 3 months. I get my blood re-tested. Fast forward 2 weeks later - I get a phone call from a nurse at my OB's office. She tells me that my blood work came back, and it's the same as it was last time. Meaning, positive/indeterminate. She tells me that my Dr. is going to be calling the Center for Infectious Diseases (doesn't that just sound scary?!) and finding out what to do next. So that's when I turn to my beloved Google. And guess what I found on Google? To sum it up, here's a blip from a website:

"Second and subsquent pregnancies in some women can induce nonspecific cross-reacting antibodies that can cause indeterminate or false-positive HIV-antibody test results. This potential confusion can be quickly sorted out by obtaining the appropriate follow-up tests."
Say WHAT?! So I wait for the call back from the nurse, hoping that my Dr. is going to obtain "the appropriate follow-up tests" for me. I get the phone call the next day, and I'm told that my Dr. has ordered a different blood test for me, and I can stop by the lab anytime to take it. I'm feeling pretty good about it now - totally sure that what I found on Google was going to be the answer to my problem.

Fast foward to 2 days ago. I had my regular monthly prenatal appt, and decided to do the blood work the same day, since I would already be at the office. I'm told that my Dr. doesn't know how long the results to this test will take, but I will get a call whenever they come in. Alright.. the waiting game again.

Well much to my surprise I got a call this morning! Apparently the results from THIS test only take 2 days. And the nurse said... "The results of your test came back... the viral load was negative." So I asked - what exactly does that mean?! And she told me the news I'd been waiting to hear confirmation of for the past 4 months... "You are HIV negative." Woohoo!!

I'm not at all surprised by this result, and in fact I honestly didn't expect anything other than this result. Because I know I have zero risk factor for having contracted it. The only possible way that I could have really been HIV positive is if Ben cheated on me, he got HIV, and transferred it to me. But that possibility really only crossed my mind once, and I immediately wrote it off. Because I trust him completely, and have no reason to doubt his faithfulness. But still, it was nice to hear the "official" diagnosis, and know that in my medical chart, the final result was in, and there would be no more testing.

So there you have it... the story of my false-postive HIV result, caused by the wonderful baby I'm growing!! Now I wonder if this will happen with each subsequent pregnancy, too, or if it's just a random thing?

Has anyone else had this happen to them? Or something similarly crazy?

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Anonymous said...

I found this entry because I have just gone through the same thing! I am pregnant with an indeterminate test. They sent it to a state lab for more testing and now I have to wait TWO WEEKS for the results! The indeterminate test could be because of very recent HIV infection or some other random antibodies that react with the test, unrelated to HIV. I know for SURE I was not infected recently, and if I had been infected years ago the test would definitely have been positive, not indeterminate, BUT STILL! I am so anxious I'm afraid I may worry myself into a miscarriage! Thanks for sharing your story, it gives me more reassurance that things will be ok.

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