false positive HIV tests

Last reviewed 01/2018

Manufacturers of ELISA tests claim that their tests are highly specific and very sensitive, with accuracies in excess of 99%.

The clinician however should be aware that a positive HIV antibody test may be false, and that all positive tests require the sending of a further sample.

Reasons include:

  • a very low prevalence of HIV in the population
  • clerical error
  • laboratory assay error