how immunosuppression can cause false negative results on antibody tests but they don’t consider alcohol to cause false negatives.


If alcohol is an immunosuppressant, and your testing for an antibody, like say for an std or other disease, doctors say unless you’re chronically immunosuppressed you’ll be positive. But if you’re drinking a lot out of anxiety, and you take the test and it’s negative, can’t alcohol suppress the immune system enough to cause the false negative? Or is it just due to the extent of say HIV or an immunosuppressant drug is WAYYY more suppressing than alcohol.

In: 7

Heavy, chronic alcohol use is immunosuppressive. Getting drunk because you’re nervous about your STD screening won’t have that effect.

The term immunosuppressed is a spectrum, with no clear definition at which point someone is suddenly “immunosuppressed.” Some diseases certainly have that definition. Like we have clear criteria at which it goes from HIV infection to AIDS. But as an overall term of immunosuppression, there’s no clear definition, just clinical effects.

For example, Diabetes can cause immunosuppression (which is why diabetics are prone to infections and are recommended to receive one of the pneumonia vaccines at younger ages). If someone is having recurrent infections, we definitely try to get the diabetes under better control (and it’s why in the hospital, we give insulin for strict control while someone is acutely sick).

However, that’s completely different than someone who is on immunosuppressant medications for autoimmune conditions or who recently received transplants. And that’s different from someone on chronic steroids.

A lot of these tests have false positive and false negatives, and it’s important to consider the pre-test possibility and chronic conditions in interpreting the results.

Would alcohol suppress your immune system… I guess…


1. The alcohol gets processed in your liver and filtered out by your kidneys. (So it’s effects, *and so, it’s immunosuppressive effects* wear off over time and eventually go away.)

2. Typically when people are on immunosuppressants (like, pills, not like alcohol) it’s meant as daily use for years and years and years. (Not that people don’t drink most days. But the cumulative effects of daily immunosuppressants is way, way more, long term, than alcohol.

3. Regardless of 1 and 2 anyway, antibody tests detect antibodies. Assuming you’ve already naturally gotten whatever disease the antibody is for (or you got a vaccine, say, and so have antibodies acquired from a vaccine, or even in utero) so, if you’ve gotten antibodies somehow, your body is still using those specific B cells to make those antibodies. (Maybe even still, alcohol might suppress *the amount
* of antibody made, but *you still have the cells that make them*, *so they’re still there, even if maybe in less concentration for a short amount of time, which again, would be only for a short time anyhow, then raise back up again*…