• In order to test for rheumatoid arthritis, doctors use a test called rheumatoid factor (RF). Although the test often accurately indicates rheumatoid arthritis, a number of causes other than rheumatoid arthritis can trigger a positive result.

    Autoimmune Disease

    Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, and other autoimmune diseases can also cause a positive RF test. These include scleroderma, systemic lupus erythematosus, adult Still's disease, dermatomyositis, sarcoidosis and Sjogren's syndrome.


    Infections can lead to high RF, according to Medline Plus and the Mayo Clinic. Medline Plus reports that HIV/AIDS, the flu, hepatitis and mononucleosis, along with other viruses, endocarditis, tuberculosis and some other bacteria and parasites can cause a positive RF test.


    Some cancers, including leukemia and multiple myeloma, can lead to a positive RF test, according to Medline Plus.

    Other Diseases

    Chronic liver and lung diseases, a kidney disease called nephrotic syndrome and cryoglobulinemia (a blood protein disease) can cause a positive RF test, according to Medline Plus and the Mayo Clinic.


    Some people who have no specific medical problems can have a high level of RF in their blood, according to Medline Plus.


    Medline Plus: Rheumatoid Factor

    Mayo Clinic: Rheumatoid Factor Results

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