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Babesiosis as a cause of false-positive HIV serology
  1. Mariola Smotrys1,
  2. Tara Magge1,
  3. Samer Alkhuja2,
  4. Susheer Dilbagh Gandotra1
  1. 1 Department of Infectious Diseases, Lehigh Valley Health Network Pocono, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2 Medicine, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Susheer Dilbagh Gandotra, susheer.gandotra{at}


This is a case of a 71-year-old homosexual man who presented with a 4-day history of fever, weakness and headaches, near syncope, nausea and poor oral intake. The patient denied recent travel or sick contacts but had significant tick bites in the last 4 weeks. A peripheral blood smear showed 0.5% parasitaemia with signet ring appearance organisms consistent with Babesia microti. Serology testing for HIV 1 and 2 by ELISA and western blot were positive. Treatment for Babesia was started and the patient improved. Repeat serology testing for HIV was negative. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first case of false-positive HIV serology that is associated with active babesiosis. In this case, the positive HIV serology turned negative after successful treatment of babesiosis.

  • infectious diseases
  • hiv / aids
  • medical education
  • immunology

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  • Contributors SDG conceived and conducted the study; SDG and MAS initiated the study design and conception; TM and MAS helped with implementation and acquisition of data; MAS was involved with design; SA was involved with interpretation of data. All authors contributed to refinement of the study protocol and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer We certify that neither this manuscript nor one with substantially similar content under our authorship has been published or is being considered for publication elsewhere. We have access to any data upon which the manuscript is based and will provide such data on request to the editors or their assignees. We all agree to allow the corresponding author to correspond with the editorial office, to review the uncorrected proof copy of the manuscript and to make decisions regarding release of information in the manuscript. We have given final approval of the submitted manuscript for which we take public responsibility for whole content.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.