HSA: ‘False negatives’ on HIV tests pose public health risk

Three cases of “false negative” HIV tests from private healthcare facilities in the Cayman Islands have been reported, according to the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority.

Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez advised there may be other instances of “false negative” tests that have not been detected.

In a statement, the HSA said the possibility of “false negatives” poses a public health risk.

Three patients were re-tested by the HSA for different reasons, but not out of concern regarding a particular facility or test, Dr. Williams-Rodriguez explained. The results were then confirmed through the Integrated Regional Laboratories in the United States.

“IRL confirmation is a standard part of the verification process for tests done at the CIHSA; some private healthcare facilities send their tests to the CIHSA for verification. All positive tests (private and public) are to be reported to the public health department and confirmatory tests are requested from IRL,” Dr. Williams-Rodriguez said.

In a joint statement, Dr. Williams-Rodriguez and Dr. Elizabeth McLaughlin called for standardization of HIV test kits in the Cayman Islands.

The doctors recommended healthcare facilities only use World Health Organization-approved kits. “There are many healthcare facilities and point of care facilities in the Cayman Islands using different type of HIV kits, not all of them are approved by WHO,” Dr. Williams-Rodriguez said.

A list of WHO-approved HIV tests are available at www.ministryofhealth.gov.ky.


  1. Were these true testing failures or simply a situation where the original results were obtained in the four week ‘window’ after exposure when the infection simply doesn’t show on tests? Could HSA also explain why they are still relying on expensive lab testing when there are tried and tested Rapidtest kits available that produce results on the spot.

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