HIV, with Dr. Watiti

By Vision Reporter

HIV testing, care and treatment should be done at clinics, hospitals or other health facilities registered and accredited by the Ministry of Health and the Uganda Medical Council.

Dear Doctor,
I went for an HIV test in 2007 and the results showed I was positive. I was not contented so I went to another clinic that same day and tested negative. Because of the fear that I could be infected with HIV having had unprotected sex in the past with a man who later died of AIDS, I started taking some herbs and injections from a herbal doctor who says he gets his medicines from abroad.
I am still on this medication, but after a year I went back to the second clinic and I still tested HIV negative. I have visited many hospitals including clinics in South Africa, but I still test HIV negative. I am now confused, wondering if I could have been HIV positive and was cured by the herbal medicine. Should I continue with the drugs? Please advise.

Dorah

Dear Dorah,
HIV testing, care and treatment should be done at clinics, hospitals or other health facilities registered and accredited by the Ministry of Health and the Uganda Medical Council.

There are standard protocols followed when testing for HIV and so at the moment, false positive or negative results are rare.

After testing HIV-positive, another important test that needs to be done for all people living with HIV (PLHIV) is the CD4 count to help establish the extent of damage done to the immune system before care and treatment can be instituted.

Treatment should never be instituted because of fear like you did, but based on the results of an HIV test and CD4 count done at a credible health facility and supported by counselling.

I am not aware of any drugs including ARVs which make a positive HIV test become negative because even PLHIV who are on ARVs and are no longer sick, still test positive for HIV antibodies. So, if you have tested HIV-negative several times, there is no logic in being on treatment for HIV.

Most likely the first test was false or a mix-up in the laboratory. What you need is to be counselled so that you accept your HIV negative results even though you may have been exposed to HIV; remembering that being exposed to HIV through sexual intercourse does not always result into infection.

Lastly, it is important to know that though herbal remedies may help fight some of the symptoms of HIV infection, they do not cure it.

Herbalists and the people they treat should know this so that all PLHIV are referred to accredited HIV/AIDS facilities for comprehensive management instead of waiting until the immune system is badly damaged then seek help.

HIV, with Dr. Watiti