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Dear Doctor I am 30 year old male from the Philippines.I had a HIV test done with me 5 weeks ago.My question is regarding proper blood collection.I had a finger prick I knew the lancet is new my concern is a micropipette with replaceable tip was used to get blood on my finger.The tip was also new for what I know.But the thing that scared me that someone had been found reactive before I had the test.I learned about it while for my result and talking with the nurse who took my blood she even showed me the assay kit.Surely the same procedure was performed and the same micropipette was used with that person except the tip and the lancet.I had a non reactive on that test I was very happy, supposed to be my conclusive 3 months.When i got home searched about the test kit there Ive seen the instruction that micropipette was supposed to use in extracting serum not whole blood on the finger.A capillary tube should be used on finger prick.My question is that is is proper and safe to use such device in a finger prick procedure?Do I have another risk?Could you please enlighten me on this matter.Thank you so much

From what you are describing, it appears that you had an HIV ELISA test at an institution where they pricked your finger and sampled the blood directly from your finger with a micropipette instead of a capillary tube. While technically improper, if the finger was properly sterilized and the lancet as well as the micropipette tip were both new and sterile, this does not put you at an elevated risk for contracting blood borne diseases such as HIV. Micropipettes are set to draw up a specific volume into their tips. When handled properly, no fluid should ever touch the micropipette itself – only the tip. Therefore when the tip is disposed, any contaminant is eliminated as well. Their technique, although unorthodox, does not appear to cross contaminate blood from one test subject to another from what you are describing.

HIV tests are not performed on whole blood because the virus resides in the serum. It is standard practice for blood taken from a patient to be spun in a centrifuge so the cells can be eliminated and the serum sampled for the test. One can speculate that the person taking your blood with the micropipette ran the HIV ELISA test directly on the blood. If this is the case, then there is a higher chance of a false negative (a person with HIV tests negative for HIV). However, from what you are describing, there is no way of knowing if the institution spun the blood and performed the test on the serum or if they performed the test directly on the blood. If this is an accredited institution for running HIV tests, then there is no reason not to trust the results of your exam.

For your reference, in the United States, HIV ELISA testing is recommended at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months for those possibly exposed to the virus.