Health

Woman Receives 9 False-Positive HIV Test Results

| by Reve Fisher
Jenn Morson with her then-newborn sonJenn Morson with her then-newborn son

A woman has shared her story of receiving a false diagnosis for HIV while pregnant.

Jenn Morson, a writer from the suburbs of Annapolis, Maryland, was pregnant with her second child when her doctor told her she had HIV.

“The lab had repeated my HIV test nine times, and my new obstetrician was lecturing me for endangering her by not disclosing my HIV status,” Morson said, according to Ozy.

Morson and her husband had both tested HIV-negative during a life-insurance exam the previous year, and it was alleged neither partner had cheated on the other.

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"Was I the first person to catch HIV from a public restroom?" she wondered. "Had I contracted it from a mosquito? Worse still, had I given it to my husband? To my daughter? To our unborn child?"

Morson was given a diagnosis of HIV-2. When she contacted the Centers for Disease Control to learn more about the disease, she was told it was unlikely that she had contracted that particular strain. According to Avert.org, HIV-2 is relatively uncommon compared to HIV-1, the principal strain of HIV present throughout the world. HIV-2 is generally present in West Africa and has a slower, less infectious prognosis than HIV-1.

Morson contacted her former nurse midwife, who put her in touch with an immunologist who arranged for a blood draw to be sent to a lab in California, which was the only one capable of accurately performing the PCR test for HIV-2 at the time. While waiting for her test results, she was instructed to act as if she had a positive diagnosis.

"If my baby girl were to get cut, I couldn’t kiss it to make her feel better," she wrote. "I couldn’t let her kiss me on the mouth, in case either of us had an open sore. I fixated on every patch of chapped skin — would it open and get blood on her?"

Ten days later, Morson received the results of the test. She was told she had an elevated antibody count due to her pregnancy, not HIV in any form.

"When my sweet baby boy was born, I covered him in kisses, no longer afraid that I was a danger to my children, but also keenly aware of how lucky I am," Morson said.

Sources: Ozy, Avert / Photo credit: Ozy

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