Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Question about HIV testing procedures

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Question
I had an HIV test about 9 months ago after my PCP referred me to a hematologists in order to figure out what was causing some of my symptoms and explain why my blood platelets were so high. The hematologists ran a bunch of tests which included an HIV test. The problem was that I was made to feel uncomfortable because the hematologists wasn't at all gay friendly and made comments that I found offensive when I mentioned that I was gay. I decided right then that I wasn't going to go back to that office and figured if my HIV test came back positive he would contact me.


Now I'm not so sure and I'm wondering if I was correct in thinking that he would call if the test was positive. I've since found out what was causing my platelet issue but I have not had another Hiv test because I've developed an anxiety disorder and I'm too afraid to get another one. If my test came back positive would the doctor have called to tell me or would he just sit on the information and wait for me to come back to see him? I reside in California if that makes a difference.

Answer
Hello Brandon,
Sorry to hear that your experience was not good with the specialist.  Rapid HIV testing is pretty quick and easy, and many city health departments do rapid tests from just a single drop of blood, taking no more than 20 minutes. Although it is the ethical responsibility of a doctor to inform patients of a potentially dangerous health condition from a positive lab result, I do not know if it is a LEGAL OBLIGATION to do so in California.

It seems highly unlikely that you would have HIV, however the only way for you to be certain, is to have an HIV test!  If a person tests HIV positive, there are excellent medications to keep you well indefinitely, much like for other chronic medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, etc.

Good luck!
--mark  

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

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Mark P. Behar

Expertise

Almost any question or concern about gay men's health issues, sexually transmitted infections, abnormal Pap smears, anal cytology (anal "Pap smears"), etc. There is no such thing as “d/d free” or “clean” (free of infection), so why do so many of us deceive ourselves into thinking that some people are indeed totally free from a potentially infectious disease, like HIV, herpes, hepatitis, syphilis, chlamydia, warts, gonorrhea, etc., just because they say so? Clinical laboratory tests are not perfect, and having a “negative” or “nonreactive” test does not mean that a person is free from infection. Perhaps at the moment the test was taken, the person was uninfected; or, perhaps, the test wasn’t sensitive enough to detect presence of the infection. There is really no way that anyone can determine that they are truly “disease free,” and there are over a hundred of infectious conditions that can be spread without your knowing anything. Rather than trying to “pre-screen” or “serosort” a potential sex-mate with deceptive questions that are impossible to know by today’s technologies, a wiser option may be to consider everyone infected with something, and either use appropriate protective measures (“safer sex”), or accept the responsibility and consequences of possibly “catching” something from someone who’s hotter than expected (pun intended!). There is much research that supports the contention that an HIV positive person reliably taking HIV medications, and having an undetectable viral load, presents a lower risk for transmission of HIV than people who may think or say they are HIV negative, but are not. Food for thought!

Experience

Family Practice PA since 1981; Volunteer Clinician for Brady East STD (BESTD) Clinic, Milwaukee, since 1977; answered STD questions submitted to their web site. Professionally lectured at national and regional Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner conferences, and at national gay & lesbian health conferences on topics including HIV/AIDS, herpes, hepatitis, STDs, human papilloma virus (the cause of venereal warts), abnormal Pap smears, gay and lesbian health issues, among others.

Organizations
Co-Founder, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Gay Physician Assistant Caucus of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Inc.; American Academy of Physician Assistants; Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants; National Co-Chair (2012-16), National Association of Black and White Men Together: A Gay, Multiracial Organization for All People (NABWMT)

Publications
Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAPA) Q Visions, Quarterly Newsletter of the NABWMT

Education/Credentials
Bachelor's of Arts, 1972 (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI) Graduate Credits Experimental Psychology, 1972-75 (Tulane University, New Orleans, LA) Physician Assistant, Bachelor's of Science, 1981 (George Washington University, Washington, DC); Masters in Physician Assistant Studies, 2000 (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE)

Awards and Honors
Colposcopy Recognition Award (CRA), the American Association of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology; Distinguished Fellow, Clinical Preceptor, American Academy of Physician Assistants; Fellow, Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants

Past/Present Clients
Brady East STD Clinic, Milwaukee, WI Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. (Martin Luther King Heritage Health Center), Dept. of Family Medicine and Early Intervention Program for HIV Infected Persons

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